20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer - Page 22 - Wrestling Forum : WWE, TNA, Debate League, Wrestling Videos, Women of Wrestling Forums
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:21 PM   #211 (permalink)
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Does anyone have any Observer articles on Dynamite Kid? I used tthe search and found a few mentions but is there anything longer, more indepth? Am interested in finding out more about him after seeing him in Bret's new DVD and watching some old Bulldogs/Hart Foundation matches.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:41 AM   #212 (permalink)
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

December 12th, 1988

WWF
-- The WWF is claiming a 4.2 buyrate for Survivor Series. That doesn't really sound exaggerated to Dave, but cable industry sources are disputing it, saying it sounds high. They didn't clear as many homes as they did for Summerslam. They are claiming they cleared 11 million homes, but it was more like 8-9 million. "Even if we figure 3.5 percent of nine million, that would be 315,000 homes at about $20 a pop. Of that $6.3 million gross, Titan's share would be around $3 million, which is certainly profitable, but would be far less then the estimated losses incurred on its boxing venture a few weeks earlier. The PPV industry is really flattening out. Even though the NWA has a good date for its Starcade, there are several reasons why they should be very happy with a two percent buyrate. It looks like Titan will make less money running four PPV shows in 1989 than it made with two shows in 1987, unless they come up with new ideas that totally capture the imagination of the wrestling public."

-- John Studd will likely return at the next SNME to start a feud with Andre the Giant and Rick Martel is returning as a midcard babyface. Strike Force will be forgotten.

-- Owen Hart will be out for a few weeks. He did a leapfrog against Valentine at Survivor Series and Valentine forgot to duck, giving Owen a ruptured groin. (My note: None of us ever had groins.)

-- "Here's what happened with Dynamite Kid and the Rougeaus on Thanksgiving night. The reason the Bulldogs lasted so long and the Rougeaus went out so early was so the Rougeaus could get out of the dressing room and disappear while Dynamite still had 30 more minutes to wrestle. Vince warned both teams if it got out of hand during the match that they wouldn't get paid for the card. One report also said he told Dynamite that it would be the Rougeaus, not Conquistadores, in the finals against Powers of Pain at the end so Dynamite wouldn't try anything during the match knowing they'd be eliminated at approximately the same time, then double-crossed Dynamite so to speak ... Give Vince tons of credit for getting out of what could have been a sticky situation."

-- 11/28 at MSG drew a sellout 19,700 fans and a $240,000 gate headlined by Hogan vs Boss Man. 12/3 in Cape Girardo, MO drew 2,000 headlined by Warrior vs HTM. 12/2 in Providence drew 5,000 headlined by Andre vs Jake. 12/4 in Springfield, MA drew 2,700 fans headlined by Savage vs Akeem. 11/27 in Rochester drew 4,000 fans headlined by Savage vs Akeem. 11/19 in Wheeling, WV drew 3,000 fans headlined by Warrior vs Honky.

NWA
-- "The expected bombshells took place this week. But it is too early to tell whether overall, the future course of the National Wrestling Alliance will be in a positive or negative direction.

"On Wednesday morning, Dusty Rhodes officially resigned as booker of the NWA. From all accounts, this was a forced resignation ordered by the TBS hierarchy based on several episodes over the past few weeks. On Thursday, Jim Crockett was officially informed that he would no longer be running the day-to-day operations of the company starting January 1st.

"Officially, the Universal Wrestling Corporation will be handled day-to-day by James Herd, currently an executive with Pizza Hut. Herd's official title will be Executive Vice President of the company, with Jack Petrik acting as President and overseer of the operations. Herd has some wrestling background in that he was the Director for Vince McMahon Sr.'s television tapings out of Washington, D.C. in the mid-1960s, then was the Director for Sam Muchnick's television show in St. Louis from 1969 through the early 70s. Herd later became General Manager at KPLR-TV (Ch. 11 in St. Louis), which was the station Muchnick's program aired on. He followed that with a stint working the front office for the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League and then went on to Pizza Hut. With Pizza Hut being in the process of being purchased by Pepsico, Inc. (Pepsi company), Herd, who was the No. 2 man in the marketing department at Pizza Hut, decided to accept Petrik's offer to run the wrestling company.

As of press time, the new booker in the NWA is Jim Crockett. This is expected to change in January. Nothing is for certain, but it appears that the booking will be done by committee, which had been speculated elsewhere. The make-up of the committee has yet to be determined, but it looks to me if present plans continue, that the actual key brain and power in the committee will be Ric Flair, which is both good and bad as I'll get to later. But there are numerous variables left in the equation.

Ironically, when TBS took over the company, Rhodes was in a stronger position to retain his job then most casual observers would believe. Much of Petrik's knowledge and understanding of the wrestling company came from Crockett, who of course, was very high on Dusty as booker (don't ask me why, that is still one of life's great mysteries). However, there were outside forces pushing for Rhodes' ouster, but up until just a few weeks ago, Rhodes was apparently going to retain his position in the early days with the new regime. The problems in a behind-the-scenes power play involving Flair, which actually had been going on since late October, came to a head. Flair was able to make a deal with TBS which increased his personal power to determine his own finishes and angles, and Rhodes was incensed because he felt Flair went behind his back to Petrik to get the power, and more, it decreased Rhodes' power and control over the promotion's World championship. Then, just a few weeks back, Rhodes tried his own manipulations to weaken Flair's position and booked him for only five dates in December. An ensuing blow-up occurred over Flair's role in Starrcade, which resulted in the Starrcade main event being changed from Flair vs. Rick Steiner to Flair vs. Lex Luger, a decision made by Petrik over Dusty's head. Rhodes then missed a weekend's worth of major shows, claiming the flu, which is where his position weakened. The word actually was out at this point that Rhodes was as good as gone as booker, however that word was premature. What appears to have been the straw that broke the camel's back was the angle that aired on 11/26 with the Road Warriors putting a spike into Dusty's eye on TBS with heavy blood and close-ups. The angle was originally slated for the Clash of the Champions show from Chattanooga on 12/7, but Rhodes obviously knew his position was weakening and hurried to get it on the air to get the major sympathy back with him and get himself with the promotion's hottest babyface (Sting) against the hottest heels (Road Warriors) for Starrcade. Apparently TBS had sent a directive to the NWA because of the blood during the Midnight Express vs. Midnight Express angle a few weeks earlier when Jim Cornette bled heavily after being hit with a telephone regarding blood on TBS and Rhodes blatantly defied the memo and ran his angle anyway.

Rhodes will be given the opportunity to remain with the company as a wrestler, although it's debateable whether that will last for any length of time. If Rhodes didn't appear on the Chattanooga show (and I'd bet money he will appear), than you can say that he's history. Another question has to do with Rhodes' contract, which was so lucrative that it was out of the realm of economic feasability (with the exception of Hulk Hogan, I don't believe that any wrestler was legitimately earning more money than Dusty, although Randy Savage and Ric Flair were probably around the same ballpark). Also, if anyone else was booker, they wouldn't build the key angles around Rhodes, which would cause Rhodes to leave as it's well-known Rhodes would rather dominate a smaller territory and make less money for ego reasons than be a middle-of-the-card performer on a national basis, which would be his most logical role. Another question is whether or not Rhodes will be moved down the card and how much influence he will have on Crockett, or if he'll make an Inoki-like comeback and wind up with the key spot in the booking committee after all the heat dies down. Remember, Crockett stuck with Rhodes all the way out of business, and still after that."

-- Nikita Koloff quit on Sunday because of the new travel policy. He lived in Charlotte and had to drive to Atlanta to catch flights to shows. Nikita had been in the doghouse with Crockett and Dusty for months and felt he was about to be buried, and Dave says he was probably right. He's expected to work for Nelson Royal's new Carolinas-area indy. Junkyard Dog is coming in to fill Nikita's spot and team with Ivan at Starrcade. "When I first heard about JYD coming in, I thought of it as just another bad decision coming from the top and laughed it off. But after thinking about it, it's a lot more than that. The NWA desperately needs to create new stars in 1989 and rebuild the company. They have an excellent core to build around, but if they just revolve around the core, things will remain stale. This was the perfect opportunity to bring in a new face at Starrcade, and instead they brought in probably one of the two or three worst performers in the world today. You can talk about what JYD did in the past as an attraction, which is very true, and he was never a great worker even when he was one of the three or four biggest box office names in the game, but that is ancient history. You don't rebuild using a wrestler who is years past his prime. Dusty Rhodes was probably the single biggest name in this business save maybe Bruno Sammartino or Andre the Giant during the last decade, and see how successful building a company around him over the last two years has been. They have both the vacancy and the need to create new stars, and they fill the spot with a guy who had been losing preliminary matches in the WWF."

-- "The angle where Dusty got spiked by the Warriors was followed by approximately 350 mainly very negative phone calls from TBS viewers. It was the largest outpouring of negative comments regarding wrestling at the station since Black Saturday in 1984 when Vince McMahon took over official control of Georgia Championship Wrestling, Inc. and with it, got the TBS time slot. More importantly, the show drew a 2.5 rating, much lower than the week before, and the rating fell throughout the show, instead of built up as is normally the case of the TBS wrestling shows. The commotion was such that even Ted Turner himself requested a copy of the tape. That's why reruns of the angle have been with blurred pictures of the actual incident and of the blood on Dusty. I suspect we've seen the last of graphically bloody angles from the NWA, at least in uncensored form."

-- "While the idea of a booking committee may sound good, it has never worked before in wrestling. That doesn't mean it can't work, but it does mean that looking at past history, the odds are against it from the start. For those of you who played sports in high school, the position of booker in many ways is similar to that of coach. The coach makes out the starting line-up, has to motivate players nightly (or for each performance) to give it their best, work as a team unit, explain what he wants from the player at each position. All coaches have assistant coaches who give input, but there is one man at the top whose job it is to make the final decisions and take the responsibility for those decisions. Think of the chaos and lack of leadership that coaching to committee, where every decision needs a 3-2 vote or whatever to pass, would cause. You would get bogged down in ridiculous arguments over very petty matters and it would be very hard to get things done constructively. Not impossible. But very hard. Of the names mentioned as being on the probable committee, it appears that Flair is going to wind up being the most powerful, although that isn't necessarily the case. It's too soon to make any judgment on Flair's booking ability, other than there is no question he was and is certainly smart enough to create an image and personality for himself that has stood the test of time.

-- "Now let's look again at reality. Ric Flair turns 39 in February. TBS is looking at building the franchise around him. He will be the highest paid employee of the company. TBS wants to turn him into a legitimate cross-over media celebrity next year. At the same time, he will be the focal point of the day-to-day cards and be counted on for that nightly 25 minute four-star match. Now add the position of booker. Somebody has to arrange and lay out five hours of television each week, figure out angles to be played and marriages to be made, motivate wrestlers on the road, book cards that make sense month-after-month in dozens of cities (something Rhodes was weak at), and take the heat because to regain the support of fans, the promotion is going to have to give up the screw-job endings that have killed so many of the towns. That means somebody has to lose and you've got a circuit filled with guys who don't like to lose and aren't used to losing. For Flair to be put in the position of being the key brains behind the booking is a full-time job. His wrestling will suffer greatly because he won't have the gym time, or his booking will suffer because he's spending too much time trying to keep the affects that aging has on an athlete away. This doesn't throw into the equation the fact that if they are successful in making Flair a legitimate celebrity, he'll have to take time out for media requests and interviews, talk shows, public appearances and the like. There are simply not enough hours in the day for any one person to handle that many tasks. Flair definitely should have say-so over his own programs, but there needs to be one booker who handles the details and it is a waste of Flair's talents as a wrestler and potential celebrity for him to be put in the position where he even worries about detail work. As far as creativity goes, the NWA has the best possible person right under its nose, and it's someone who nobody is considering to even be on the committee."

-- Flair did an interview with Mark Madden for the Pittsburgh Press. Among the highlights:

* Flair does think in his generation, he is the best wrestler, because he has God-given ability, physical skills and gift of gab. Plus, he has had phenomenal health.
* Flair thinks Barry Windham is one of the best current guys, and had one of his best matches ever with him at the Crockett Cup.
* He grew up in Minneapolis, went to University of Minnesota and played football and wrestled. He was academically ineligible after his sophomore year and then met Verne Gagne through Greg. He was rooming with Ken Patera at the time, who was training for the Olympics.
* He left the AWA quickly because it was hard to get matches on top.
* George Scott convinced Flair to model himself after Buddy Rogers.
* "When I don't think I'm one of the best anymore, I won't wrestle. I've always had a positive attitude and I've never rested on my past laurels. When any athlete believes his press clippings, or his fan mail, he should look for something else to do."
* Flair says Hogan has always had the WWF public relations machine behind him, but he thinks fans who follow wrestling closely see him in a different light.
* His kids seem fine with him being on the road all the time, but his wife has had to adjust
* The WWF is more popular, but the NWA has the better wrestling
* Flair sees himself wrestling another 8 years
* He once again repeats that Windham is phenomenal, but that he's not quite at Flair's level. Luger needs to work on his in-ring, but is a really good athlete. Sting is a tremendous athlete.
* He would like to be remembered as someone who was the best wrestler of his era, and someone who had to work hard to both get his spot and keep it.

-- Dave attended a couple of live NWA shows in Las Vegas and San Francisco. Here are his thoughts on each show:

VEGAS:
-- Overall, the best show Dave has attended since night 2 of the Crockett Cup. However, he suspects disappointment in not selling out the Showboat. The show drew 2,500 fans, but the arena was set up for 2,900 fans. Normal capacity is 2,700 but they rearranged to accomodate the sellout that didn't happen. San Francisco was a decent show, but the crowd was tougher and the matches weren't as good.

-- The Vegas show drew a $27,400 gate and the place was popping huge all night.

Ron Simmons vs Italian Stallion: Babyface match and a loose ring, but it didn't affect any of the matches all night, and the crowd was into the match. *

Midnight Express vs Original Midnight Express: First ever MX vs MX match! The match went to a 20-minute draw, and Dave has no idea why they would put such a hot match so early in the show. The heat was insane for this one, with the entire building shaking like an earthquake, and drinks of fans in the audience were even tipping over at times because of the noise. The two teams don't have as much wrestling chemistry as you'd think, but they did have lots of wild action. Cornette and Paul E. rolled around amongst all the chaos of the post-match brawl, which got an amazing reaction, but Dave says if they're going to do that, they need to keep it short, because neither is exactly Bobby Heenan as far as working, and it looks really bad when they lock up. But ... Dangerously did get more heat at ringside than Dave has ever seen Heenan get.

Ron Simmons (pulling double duty and subbing for Nikita Koloff) vs Mike Rotunda: They announced that Dusty wouldn't be there because of the Road Warriors attack on TBS and even said he had to be hospitalized, which got a HUGE pop! "Everyone cheered when they announced Dusty had to be hospitalized. I mean everyone." Rotunda won the match by using the ropes for leverage. Both guys worked hard and Rotunda did a good job carrying the match, but the crowd was still deflated from the previous match. **

Rick Steiner vs Steve Williams: Steiner wasn't as over as you'd think coming out, but did a great job getting himself over as the match went on. Dave wouldn't say Steiner is the most improved wrestler of the year, but he is the most improved act of the year. **1/2

Ric Flair & Barry Windham vs Eddie Gilbert & Bam Bam Bigelow: Gilbert subbed for Dusty. This was the first time Gilbert and Flair had ever worked together and the match was super, with tons of Wahoo-like chops and stiff shots. "It was really fun to see Flair in there with a complete wrestler for a change who both looked good on offense and sold big for Flair's moves." ****1/4

Road Warriors vs Sting & Lex Luger: Tremendous heat. Dave expected the Roadies to get cheered, and they did, but Sting and Luger got twice the reaction. They brawled all the way back to the dressing room. ****

SAN FRANCISCO:
-- The line-up was the same and most of the matches were similar. The crowd was 2,800 in the 7,000-seat building drawing a $32,000 gate. Not very impressive, however the only TV they have in this market is on Saturdays at midnight at a station based in San Jose.

Simmons vs Stallion: Better than the previous night. *1/2

Midnight Express vs Original Midnight Express: Much slower paced than the previous night's match. The entrance and finale got great heat, but the crowd was dead in the middle of the match, which seemed to bother the wrestlers. *1/2

Ric Flair & Barry Windham vs Eddie Gilbert & Bam Bam Bigelow: Total Road Warriors crowd here. When they announced Dusty was injured by the Road Warriors, they went crazy, but when they said Dusty wouldn't appear, they booed heavily and were even more upset when announced Gilbert would be subbing in this match. Gilbert and Bigelow both got booed heavily in their entrances. Windham got a mixed reaction and Flair got a huge babyface reaction. However, when the match started, the fans reacted the way they were led by the wrestlers. Good match, but nowhere near as good as the previous night. Bigelow played FIP instead of Gilbert, and Eddie Gilbert was the hot tag guy this time around. "You figure it out." When Flair pinned Gilbert, the audience popped huge as if the babyfaces had won. ***

Mike Rotunda vs Ron Simmons: Fans were very upset about Nikita not being on the show, and no one bought the story about his wife being ill. All restholds and no heat. 1/2*

Rick Steiner vs Steve Williams: Lots of stalling and barking, not a good match at all. DUD

Road Warriors vs Sting & Lex Luger: Good match, but a step down from the previous night. Luger was having an off night and his timing was slightly off. The crowd was solidly on the Road Warriors' side, and booed Sting when he made the hot tag. Sting had more heel heat than anyone on the show except Paul E. Warriors were total faces and tried to adapt to the crowd. ***

-- "Where do we start? Expect these changes under Jim Herd: 1) Wrestlers will get weekly paychecks based on their contract. For example, a wrestler with a $100,000 contract will be $2,000 per week, rather than paid by the gate and have so-called balloon payments (that don't materialize) at the end of the year; 2) Wrestlers will have their hotels taken care of on the road; 3) TBS, not J.J. Dillon, will handle travel arrangements and wrestlers will fly from their home town, not all from Atlanta; 4) All TV tapings, both for TBS and the syndicated package will eminate from a mid-sized arena in the Atlanta area; 5) The announcers on the syndicated package will remain pretty much the same. TBS package will have Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone doing the p.m. show without David Crockett, however Crockett will do a solo act on the a.m. show without Ross & Schiavone. Early speculation is this is either giving Crockett a bone, since the Crocketts are still in a position of some power in the company, or perhaps they want to do away with the a.m. show and putting David on solo is setting up a ratings drop so it can be canceled and David can be done away with on television. There is talk that Jim Cornette will do color on the a.m. show but that is just talk. Actually all of what I've written is still in the planning stages and some, or all may not materialize; 6) Crockett, Rhodes and J. J. Dillon have had to move to smaller offices in Dallas; 7) There will be attempts to improve syndication, particularly in the major markets like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles; 8) The TV shows will be post-produced so the production quality should improve."

-- 11/24 at the Omni in Atlanta drew 8,000 fans and a $96,000 gate headlined by Luger/Sting vs Road Warriors.

-- Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) will appear on a future Clash.

-- Petrik wants to improve relations with the Japanese promotions.

-- 12/1 in Albuquerque, NM drew 4,700 fans and a $34,000 gate headlined by Sting & Luger vs Road Warriors in a **** match. Flair missed the show, as he had to rush home because his wife was hospitalized.

-- Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane were fired after the Albuquerque show, but everything was worked out later in the week.

-- 12/3 in Houston drew a miserable $14,000 gate, which Dave calls "miserable" for Sting/Luger vs Road Warriors.

-- "The idea of having the managers work the Bunkhouse Stampedes is so stupid I can't believe they are doing it. First, it only makes the match look bad since the managers can't work. Second, it takes away the danger angle because how dangerous could it be if Humperdink, Cornette and Dangerously are involved. Match turns into comedy."

MEMPHIS/WCCW
-- 11/28 drew only 1,000 fans with a main event of Lawler/Rick Casey/Dundee vs Fuller/Golden/Sid. "The only thing I know about the card is that Dundee gave Downtown Bruno five piledrivers on teh concrete and Bruno is out of commission. I don't know if he's headed to the Dallas part of the office or not, but that would be silly since the World Class TV show airs in Memphis, but they are doing a lot of silly things of late."

-- Jim Garvin came into Memphis as a heel, but is now in WCCW as a babyface.

-- Rick Casey said on TV that his real name is Wendell Cooley and that he will go by that name moving forward.

-- At the 12/3 tapings, Fuller & Golden took on Scott Steiner & Todd Morton and Todd juiced a bucket until Dundee came out. Fuller knocked him out with a trash can and Dundee juiced as well. Dave is told the angle was really good, but since Fuller & Golden are involved, it's so not fresh that no one cares.

-- Mike Miller and Brian Adams left for Oregon.

-- 12/3 in Jonesboro drew 625 fans headlined by Dundee/Cooley vs Fuller/Golden in a ***1/2 brawl with lots of bleeding. 12/2 in Dallas drew a $6,600 gate.

-- Chris Adams was on the 12/3 TV from the Sportatorium, which surprised everyone since he's running opposition in Dallas and has a show on 12/15 which is Adams vs Iceman with Missy Hyatt and Fantasy in the corners.

-- World Class TV has been almost entirely Eric Embry and Jeff Jarrett. Every week, Embry gets jumped by Akbar's group but comes back to do a run-in later in the show because he's too tough to go to the hospital. Also, the babyfaces, even Hayes, spend all of their interview time just talking about Embry and Jarrett.

-- When Dave was in Dallas, the only topic of conversation seemed to be Kerry Von Erich at the AWA show. "I really don't know many details on the subject other than there were at least four wrestlers at World Class who knew Kerry's had his foot amputated so it wasn't as big a secret as I'd thought, though it shocked the hell out of most in wrestling, including Jerry Jarrett. The amputation was done after Kerry's attempt at a comeback too soon in an ill-fated attempt to draw a house with Brian Adias, but before he came back full-time last November. I'm not sure if coming back too soon was the reason, although most likely it was simply that the micro-surgery performed on his foot (taking muscle tissue from his back and planting it into his foot) didn't take and amputation was then necessary. I've got a friend who had similar surgery and the success ratio for it is less than 25 percent and he also needed his foot amputated. The fact Kerry performs as well as he does is nothing short of remarkable, all things considered. A lot of people in wrestling are trying to say the incident never occurred, but it was the only topic people were talking about in Las Vegas."

CONTINENTAL
-- Buddy Landell is in and did a run-in on Doug Furnas in Knoxville. The card drew a $20,000 house, their biggest since David Woods took over.

-- Terry Gordy is coming in as the top heel when he gets back from Japan.

-- Despite the big Thanksgiving house, business was back down to almost nothing over the past week.

-- On TV, they were plugging that Bob Armstrong would unmask because he wanted the match with the

OREGON
-- Don Owen reached a compromise with the Oregon State Athletic Commission. Owen agreed to put up barricades and agreed to no more blood. The Saturday night show drew a very small crowd. Matt Borne wasn't on the show and has been suspended for his part in causing the promotion to be shut down.

STAMPEDE
-- Don Muraco and the Bulldogs have popped the territory, but the wrestling quality has been terrible. 11/25 in Calgary drew a sellout at the Pavillion and on 12/2, they drew a follow-up sellout. 12/3 in Edmonton drew 3,000 fans and a $25,000 gate.

-- Larry Cameron and Tommy Ferrera are coming in.

-- "Muraco doesn't do a thing in his matches here. Junkfood Dog never came, nor will he, while Bulldogs didn't sell hardly at all for the locals although they did do some moves."

-- "Kid & Smith are still caleld the Bulldogs, and Kid is the booker, but Muraco is no longer called The Rock."

ALL JAPAN
-- 11/20 at Korauken Hall drew a sellout 2,350 fans. 11/21 in Nagoya drew 8,200 fans. 11/25 in Kumamoto drew 2,700 fans. 11/24 in Fukuoka drew a poor crowd of 1,900 in Ashura Hara's hometown, which seems to be hurt because of the Hara scandal. 11/28 in Osaka drew 5,100 fans.

-- The Rock & Roll Express were considered a huge flop. They were expected to get over at the level of the Bulldogs or Mascaras/Caras, but got no heat for most of their matches.

NEW JAPAN
-- "The latest on the deal with the Soviets is that it is going to take a lot of money to close the deal. I don't even have a ballpark figure but was told it would cost 'equivalent to an NFL football player' for each wrestler, which makes me think for 10 wrestlers you are talking several million dollars. TV-Asahi no longer considers wrestling high on its priorities and has turned down funding the deal. There is even talk that Inoki will go to Baba and try and have him help out and both groups would combine for a Japan vs. Soviet Union & USA card at the Tokyo Dome (56,000 seats) in May. The contracts are expected to be signed on 12/20 in the Soviet Union."

-- 11/25 in Hiroshima drew 4,580 fans.

-- Keichi Yamada has left Europe and on 12/5 in Bremen won the middleweight title, which he will likely defend throughout Europe next year.

-- TV ratings are bad. 10/22 TV headlined by Inoki vs Choshu only drew a 4.6 and 11/5 with Inoki vs Bigelow drew a 4.2. By comparison, Baba's ratings have been in the 6's. They drew a 6.9 for Jumbo vs Hansen in a title unification match, and a 7.4 for Jumbo vs Tenryu in a super match.

UWF
-- The UWF TV special on 10/26 drew a 12.7 rating. This was the second highest wrestling TV rating of the year in Japan behind Dump's retirement. It was mainly interviews with the UWF stars and training clips and brief clips of matches. There are rumors that Ch. 6 in Tokyo will start broadcasting the UWF once a month next year.

-- "Now does this angle sound familiar or not, except it's really not an angle -- Hisashi Shinma (former New Japan president) and Naoki Otsuka (a leading New Japan promoter who helped put together Choshu's original jump from New Japan to All Japan, then was double-crossed by Choshu when he jumped back) are getting together to form a promotion and they are calling it 'The Original UWF'. If you recall, Shinma actually started the UWF as a regular pro wrestling outfit in April of 1984 using Maeda as the top star after luring Maeda from New Japan, then was booted out of power in a power play with Satoru Sayama (original Tiger Mask). At that point, the old UWF went to its so-called shooting style with emphasis on kicks and submissions and eliminating high spots or 'fake-looking' moves. Shinma at a press conference said he would have his wrestlers, and he's trying to lure the top karate guys to his group, battle against Maeda or Takada for the UWF name. Shinma is trying to destroy the legitimate image of the UWF because they forced him out of power and changed 'his' promotion. Of course, Maeda won't accept any challenges. Shinma is forming his own group from the remains of the JWP promotion, which went bankrupt recently. The word is out that Shinma and his karate guys are going to show up at Maeda 12/22 card in Osaka (Takada vs. Backlund) and challenge Maeda after he beats Norman Smiley, which could be interesting. Shinma promoted a show at Korauken Hall on 12/3 featuring women matches, karate matches and El Gran Hamada vs. Atsushi Onita in the main event. Shinma then leaves for Mexico and the U.S. from 12/7 to 12/15 to book and scout foreign talent and wants to open up a new promotion with the help of Otsuka and karate gyms in April."

-- Maeda and Don Nakaya Neilsen recently joined hands in public with Maeda to announce a rematch, but then Neilsen signed an exclusive contract with a kickboxing promoter so he can't work any more mixed matches."

-- Nikkan Sports reports that the UWF will be sending videotapes to US stations next year in hopes of promoting shows, but it's a long shot at best, because trying to expand into the US would be death.

JOSHI
-- AJW had a special called "Women Wrestlers tour the US" and aired highlights from the Hawaii shows and the Chigusa Nagayo vs Madusa Miceli match from Vegas. All the matches were terrible. The Crush Girls wrestled two Hawaiians that were so bad that they stopped selling and the match turned into a series of amateur tie-ups and you can guess how that went. Dave says that match has to be seen to believe how bad it is.

MEXICO
-- Blue Demon had his retirement match this past week in Mexico City. Dave can't pin down the date, but knows he teamed with Blue Demon Jr. and Ringo Mendoza against Pirata Morgan & El Satanico & Emilio Charles Jr. Lots of Mexican legends were in attendance, including Black Shadow and Ray Mendoza. "Demon, 56, began wrestling at the age of 16 and his career spanned some 41 years. He won his first title in 1953 and was the biggest name in Mexico in the early 1960s and worked full-time as a main eventer through 1983 when he slowed down his schedule. Demon ranks just behind El Santo and Mil Mascaras as the most famous wrestler in the history of Mexican lucha libre. His 22-year-old son has been wrestling for nearly five years."

LETTERS
-- Pretty sure this is the first Steve Yohe letter I've seen in the WON, praising the tag match and saying the show was overall pretty good. He also thinks they're phasing out DiBiase too soon and should do another round of Hogan vs DiBiase. He also said "They Live" was one of the best b-movies he's seen in years. He also criticizes Dave for not covering the return of Bob Backlund all that much when it should have bee the headline story. He also says Flair should start being more vocal to the NWA, as they've killed him with phony finishes, but that also, some of his problems are self-inflicted, as he goes on TV and sells for George South like he's trying to make him the next Ricky Steamboat.

-- "Worst Merchandising Scheme: Four Horsemen vitamins (I wonder if we would have seen Road Warrior steroids had Jim Crockett held onto the NWA much longer)" -- Nicholas Koliaiakis, Massapeque, NY

-- "Is it my imagination or did the NWA set the all-time record for most turns in one year? Since the beginning of the voting period, they've turned everyone but Dusty Rhodes, Sting and Ric Flair." -- Scott Williams

-- " ... While Andre certainly never took steroids to increase his size since he was more than big enough, I do believe he used them in recent years, particularly before Wrestlemania III and afterwards to help strengthen his back muscles which had weakened to the point that he could no longer stand upright on his own because of his enormous girth. Actually, that is a legitimate medical purpose for use of steroids." -- Dave Meltzer

-- "First, regarding your comments on Ric Flair 'carrying' George South -- as good as Flair is, South hardly needs to be carried. On the independents here some years back, there was a wrestler by the name of Mark 'Iron Man' Thunder. He was the only good wrestler in this promotion and often worked three or four times a night under various guises carrying the entire show. He could walk down the aisle and five minutes later have every redneck in the place wanting to kill him. He was a superb performer. Imagine my surprise when months later he popped up as a jobber on TBS named George South." -- James Steagall, Stoneville, SC
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:07 PM   #213 (permalink)
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Wow.
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Old 08-23-2013, 06:55 AM   #214 (permalink)
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Quote:
* Flair sees himself wrestling another 8 years


Wow.
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:52 AM   #215 (permalink)
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Just found this searching the net. Some funny stuff

Spoiler for WO quotes on WCW:
"There is a method to Jim Herd's madness about bringing in Long John Silver that no one seems to realize. He's the perfect contender to Ric Flair's title, because Long John Silver would be immune to the effects of the figure four leglock" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 26, 1990.

"NWA will open negotiations with Kerry and Kevin Von Erich. I can understand taking the chance on Kerry but see no reason whatsoever to hire Kevin. Actually, Kerry would make a great Long John Silver" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 26, 1990

"Jim Duggan came out next and made some remarks about Sting and then Sting came out and gave him the reverse DDT and was supposed to leave Duggan laying. At least that's how the commentators were selling it, the only problem was that Duggan got right back up and was marching around the ring as they said it." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 20, 1997.

"Eddie Guerrero double count out Syxx in a 2:00 ladder match. I've got a feeling watching a ladder match go to a double count out in that short a time on TV will make me spent $27.95 to see them have a rematch." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 20, 1997.

"{Steve McMichael} was rumored to be earning in the $350,000 range when he was announcing, haven't heard any word on what he's making to wrestle - or whatever it is they call what he does." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 27, 1997.

"NWO Souled Out (or suddenly the Royal Rumble was a hell of a show) poll results:
Thumbs Up 2
Thumbs Down 175
In the Middle 2"
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 3, 1997. These were the preliminary poll results.

"Bischoff made a remark that they didn't have to give tickets away at a 7-11 to get people to come to this PPV. That was in reference to the WWF which only could get 48,000 paid for its show last week."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 3, 1997. In reference to Souled Out and the Royal Rumble.

"The idea was to spoof beauty contests but it was so lame the crowd began chanting for Debra McMichael." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 3, 1997.

"Miss NWO finally ended with the sight of Bischoff French kissing an overweight mid 50s woman to no cheers, even fewer laughs, and a lot of gagging around the country. By this time the show was as much fun to watch as three hours of somebody masturbating. In fact, I'm not sure that isn't what we were watching." - The Wrestling Observer: February 3, 1997.

"Benoit threw Konnan over the top for the DQ. Jacquelyn was supposed to pull a chair from under the ring but some WCW idiot had grabbed the chair and was sitting in it and she, on live TV, started looking for a chair and looking for a chair and what a disaster that turned out to be." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 10, 1997.

"Piper talked into the toilet bowl at Hogan."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 24, 1997.

"A fan hit the ring during the brawl which was funny because the fan forgot to sell Hall and Savage's punches but at least he ran away quickly." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 3, 1997.

"{At the American Film Market 97} only two movies with wrestlers were screened ... The other was Hogan's Santa With Muscles whose first screening attracted all of seven people and whose second screening attracted zero." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 17, 1997.

"Ice Train pinned Maxx in the dark match. Report was that it was about as good as you'd expect." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 24, 1997

"The NWO did an interview. They pretended to be stoned. They pretend very well." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 24, 1997

"Dusty {Rhodes} was really horrid here because he thought Ciclope was Parka because of the horns on his costume (of course it's Psicosis, not Parka who is the one with the horns)."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 31, 1997.

"Joe Gomez ran in while Renegade watched (the world was just waiting for the Renegade vs. Joe Gomez feud)."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 7, 1997.

"{Luna Vachon} talked about taking the womens belt from Madusa. Of course Madusa doesn't hold that belt. Akira Hokuto does, but with the communication withing this company, I don't blame her for the mistake."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 21, 1997.

"Larry Zbyszko didn't know who Roger Clemens was but did bring up Bronko Nagurski as a name everyone should have heard of." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 4, 1997.

"{Bischoff} claimed WWF would be out of business in six months."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 27, 1997. Backstage meeting with the wrestlers.

"{Bischoff} also said something to the effect that there are only three wrestlers in the room that have ever put asses in the seats and they were Hogan, Piper and Savage and said he was willing to to debate anyone if they disagreed with that assessment."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 27, 1997. Backstage meeting with the wrestlers.

"After the match, {Van} Hammer carried Riggs from the ring into the crowd, I guess to signify them kidnapping his soul."
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 1, 1997.

"During the match, and this didn't show up on camera, ref Randy Anderson got nailed in the head with a golf ball thrown by a fan" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 08, 1997.

"Glacier & Ernest Miller wrestled Harlem Heat and as Miller was pinned, Glacier didn't even try to make the save. He then grabbed the house mic and said that it was payback for being late to the airport earlier" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 08, 1997

"Nick Patrick patted Hall on the back (turning heel on WCW Saturday Night). Patrick continued at the arenas the rest of the week to do his heel turn, but on Nitro on 12/1 there wasn't so much as a hint of a turn" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 08, 1997.

"Hogan is trying to get Yokozuna into WCW. Remember, he still has a win he needs to get back" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 08, 1997.

"A Sting mannequin sped down from the ceiling. When they went to beat the doll up, it was a real life human they dragged to the ropes that pretended to be the doll. As Hogan made fun of the dummy, the dummy unmasked, revealing real Sting, and unable to unhook himself while beating up the NWO (he) looked ridiculous" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 15, 1997

"On the Internet Insiders show, Gene Okerlund apologized for saying that Brian Pillman died from cocaine" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 15, 1997.

"The blond haired member of Raven's group called Lodi was originally going to be called 'The Skank'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 15, 1997.

"A Sting mannequin sped down from the ceiling. When they went to beat the doll up, it was a real life human they dragged to the ropes that pretended to be the doll. As Hogan made fun of the dummy, the dummy unmasked, revealing real Sting, and unable to unhook himself while beating up the NWO (he) looked ridiculous" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 15, 1997

"Hall & Nash did an interview with Nash making a hip with the times 34-year-old reference to Jack Rubies and the WCW wrestlers being the Lee Harvey Oswalds" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 15, 1997.

"Tenay and Schiavone then began extolling the virtues on Larry Zbyszko, who now that he's retired has become a cross between Jack Brisco and Royce Gracie as a master submission expert. They talked about him being a wrestler at Penn State (Well, when he was in high school he once went to a wrestling clinic there) and beating Sammartino at Shea Stadium (Well, at least he was actually in that match). I'm surprised they didn't bring up how he tapped out Royce and shot on Thesz in a double cross if they are going to make things up like that" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 15, 1997

"The show opened with a dark match as the American Patriots (Curtis "Chip the Firebreaker" Thompson and Todd Champion aka Todd Brafford) returning beating the Samoan Swat Team, billed as Samu and Fatu, although it was the original Samu and the Fatu was Sam Fatu, better known as Samoan Savage and Tonga Kid. All reports are that this match wasn't good, so that should pretty well guarantee they get signed." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997.

"The Samoans are likely (signed) due to Hogan, who apparently has some sort of indebtedness to Afa" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997.

"Steve McMichael was supposed to wrestle Meng. Thankfully that never happened" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997.

"The show was supposed to end with the angle where Sting laid out every member of the NWO except Bischoff and Hogan who escaped unscathed. Because so many fans were hitting the ring, they ran out of time and Sting didn't make it to the ring on time. When Bischoff in the ring realized the angle was blown, he very audibly swore, and then totally freaked out in the ring not realizing that there was a live mic picking it up and it went over the air since there was no seven second delay. He had his head in his hands when the camera came back on him after the swearing" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997.

"During the show they plugged a cruiserweight title match with Guerrero defending the title against Dragon, and for whatever reason with no explanation the match never took place" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997

"Oleg Taktarov's agent called WCW and told them that the WWF was strongly after Oleg. As best we can tell, there is no interest by the WWF in Oleg" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997

"At the show in Buffalo, when the lights went out during the Savage vs. Hugh Morris match, the reason they were out for so long is because Bruce Smith and Jim Kelly hoped the rail and attacked Savage, and WCW security had to grab them and get them out of there before the lights went back on. I've heard that this was a rib on security set up by Savage, Smith and Kelly" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997

"Later on the Buffalo show, a fan got into the ring going after Scott Hall, but Randy Anderson cut him off and kneed him low. WCW refs are getting their own UFC training every week it seems" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997

"Meng's reputation as a tough guy comes from pulling out Jesse Barr's eye, biting the nose off of someone who started trouble with him and beating up the occasional police force" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997.

"This match may not be airable because there was so much dry ice in the building by this time that the whole place was engulfed in fog" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 22, 1997.

"Starrcade destroyed WCW's all-time gate records and also set the companies all time one-night merchandise record. The paid attendance was a company record...The show was bad" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"It would turn a great phrase to say that 16 months of work was exposed about halfway through Sting's walk down the aisle" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"(Sting vs. Hulk Hogan) saw boring chants two minutes in" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"At this point the plan was for Nick Patrick to deliver a fast count and have Sting kick out before three, but Patrick would rule it a pin, leading to Bret Hart avenging the wrong done to him at Survivor Series and getting the match restarted and taking over as the ref leading to Sting winning with the scorpion submission in the middle. A funny thing happened. Patrick didn't count fast. Why is a bigger mystery than the weird gravitational pull from the alignment of the stars that resulted in Kevin Nash, Royce Gracie and Huntrt Hearst Helmsley all coming up injured within days of eachother just prior to to all having to suffer either symbolic worked or realistic beatings. You can mistime a ref bump. You can blow a move. But how do you blow a fast count? The only reasonable answer is that Hogan changed the spot in the ring and Patrick didn't want to cross Hogan because of all the power that he wields. Coming off of the Hart-Michaels deal which has been the catalyst for everything in the business since, is Bischoff, Hogan and nobody else, perhaps Sting, decided to do a non fast count when there was supposed to be a fast count (your head spinning yet?), but that doesn't make sense either because why did they have the announcers sell it as a fast count the next day when it obviously wasn't and if that was the case the guy who got screwed and made a fool of would have been Hart, who if anything, this company wasn't trying to portray in that matter after the last company did" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"With the finish from the previous night messed up and thus really unable to ever be shown on television, it was decided after the dust settled to change directions once again. A rematch was held on Nitro the next night in Baltimore, with the gimmick being that the finish wouldn't be shown on television. So on Nitro the next night, about six minutes into the rematch, the show abruptly went off the air. Naturally there were more complaints about this the next day at Turner Broadcasting than anything WCW has ever pulled in history" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"Nitro had set a precedent for the last 18 months of staying with the main event until the finish. This was broken once before as a way to garner ratings for the Robin Hood series by pretending Hogan and The Giant were doing a 40 minute match and showing taped clips purported as being live as the show was on the air" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"This actually would be the earliest the show had gone off the air in recent memory despite having nothing but the Nitro replay to follow on TNT and it being billed as the biggest match in Nitro history" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"To make things worse, on a night where so much went wrong, in the finish, where Bischoff was supposed to kick Zbyszko in the head with a loaded kick pad with Scott Hall putting an object in the pad, the object went flying out of Bischoff's kick pad into the air just before the kick made contact with Zbyszko's head. Zbyszko had to sell that blow as a knockout" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"As for the big question about Thursday, well, if you've got any good ideas for a Thursday night show, email them to Eric quickly" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"Scott Hall came out and did the survey and then said that Kevin Nash wouldn't be there. Hall gave no explanation at all. Earlier in the show the announcers said that Nash wouldn't be on the show, but also gave no explanation. For whatever reason, Giant came out and looked like he hadn't slept in a week" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"On the pre-game show, Bobby Heenan and Tony Schiavone were running the show down. This was probably taped a few weeks ago though in the commentary they made it seem like they were doing it live across the street from the building. It was clearly taped before Heenan turned NWO for a week. Heenan was cheerleading for WCW, running down the NWO. He was also talking about doing commentary on the show (which he didn't). It was one of those storyline snafus that are becoming more prevalent. The Nash-Giant match was heavily pushed on the pre-game show despite word being out that it wasn't taking place" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"Randy Savage & Vincent & Scott Norton beat the Steiner Brothers & Ray Traylor. Match was unusually bad" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"Bill Goldberg pinned Steve McMichael. They started brawling in the aisle. Unfortunately, they would end up in the ring" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"Marcus Bagwell pinned Lex Luger. At one point Bagwell called for Vincent to come out. Vincent did some interfering" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"You haven't lived until you have seen McMichael and Hammer do a post match brawl" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997.

"In Charlotte, WCW at a live Nitro had so many problems with fans hitting the ring while the lights were being turned off for the cinematic angle involving Sting that the angle never made it to the ring and ended up being botched to the point that there was an audible voice in the ring swearing over a live mic about the angle" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"Then came the NWO take-over, and after 25 minutes of that we got yet another Bischoff interview where he gave Hogan two motorcycles and a limo for Christmas" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"They ended the show with yet another Bischoff & Hogan interview. This time someone brought Hogan a present which he thought was from Bischoff, but Bischoff denied it. At this point Bret Hart came out in the NWO limo, Hogan opened the present and it was a (replica of) Hogan's head. Hogan freaked out, Hart laughed, and Sting came flying into the ring (on a rope)" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"Buff Bagwell's latest movie, 'Return to Savage Beach', was said to be as bad as his first movie" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 29, 1997

"Hogan's real life attorney Henry Holmes then insisted WCW put up a bond of 1.5 million that Giant won't attack Nash before the PPV" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"During his ring entrance, (Juventud Guerrera) jumped on the ropes, lost his balance and embarrassingly fell on his ass" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998.

"The 2/5 Thunder show was scheduled for the Houston Astrodome. It was moved" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"On World Wide which was taped months ago but airing this week they had Hennig beat Booker T clean, and the announcers had to explain it was a non-title match since no belts were around and also ignore Jacquelyne (fired well before) running around at ringside" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"John Nord beat Barbarian with the camel clutch in 5:06. AWFUL. This made made the crowd, which started out really hot, subdued for the rest of the show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"Only memorable thing about the match was Bobby Heenan talking about the show on Thursday (Thunder) being the reason 'Steinfeld' quit. Hey, I thought he was going to say that's why they cancelled Bonanza" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"One of the reasons Sting-Hogan didn't get a lot of heat at Starrcade was because there was a rumor going around the building that it wasn't the real Sting" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"The taping before 2,000 fans was marred by four injuries" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998.

"John Nord beat Lizmark Jr. The match must have been someone's idea of a practical joke since Nord can't have a decent match with a guy who speaks his language and works his style. Well, nobody exactly works his style but you get my drift" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998

"Savage refused to beat Ray Traylor because he considered Traylor a jobber" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 19, 1998.

"Still, this was only the second lamest announcing comment of the week, as nothing could touch Stagger Lee Marshall's contention that the Lucha Libre style is very similar to Jiu Jitsu on Thunder two nights earlier" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"At best, Luger vs. Savage was a distant fourth in interest level. Obviously it went on last anyway because that was the match where Hogan was going to get involved" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"By the way, does anyone know what 'Juvi Juice' stands for on Guerrera's tights? If they do, please don't tell me" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998.

"Martel started working a subtle heel style, but it was so subtle (since it was the kind of things that would get heat a decade ago) that they crowd actually didn't even figure out he was a heel" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"As Zbyszko was laying there to get sympathy, a huge 'Larry Sucks' chant started again" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998.

"Nash actually tried a pescado, but his legs caught the top rope going over" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998.

"This enabled Hogan to give Nash a pitcher of coffee which he threw in Giant's face. (Nash) went to jackknife him for the pin but couldn't handle the weight and actually dropped him, dangerously, on his neck" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Liz's offense was better than half the guys in the promotion" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Hall and Hogan came out, with Hall wearing a Black Cat New Japan t-shirt, which I guess would be comparable to Chono wearing a a Wayne Bloom t-shirt" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Mongo did an interview, leading to Davey Boy Smith coming out and issuing a challenge for later in the show. Whose idea of a practical joke was that?" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Nash did his 6'10" Robin Williams comedy" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Tony Schiavone said that Chavo was Eddie's brother" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998.

"The entire NWO came out and Savage started running everyone down. There was an inside comment there because everyone was cracking up and unable to keep up the gimmick" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Davey Boy Smith pinned Mongo in 3:02 with what could loosely be described as a powerslam. - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"To show how Regis follows WCW, when Kimberly was talking, they acknowledged her husband in the audience and Regis called him Diamond Dan" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Goldberg destroyed Cold Stoned Kendall Windham" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Hall did an interview with Spicolli supposedly breaking Larry Zbyszko's golf clubs" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Dusty Rhodes got a gig on a three hour prime time Friday Night show 'Motor Madness' on The Nashville Network. It's a show covering Monster Trucks, but using pro wrestling storylines. Rhodes is announcing the show. From what we understand, he was terrible and almost incomprehensible in his debut" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"Lex Luger beat Scott Hall via DQ in a DUD match including the worst reverse atomic drop of the past five years (usually Luger's miss by about a foot, but this missed by far more)" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 02, 1998

"At that point, there were boring chants as they were doing high spots. Parka did a lot of dancing, and when the crowd didn't react to it, he did funny mannerisms making fun of the audience" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998.

"Nick Patrick still acted like a heel even though he kissed Gene Okerlund" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998

"The original plan was to get a famous lawyer from the most famous trial in recent history involved who would show up at the PPV and legally "bully" Dillon into reinstating Nick Patrick for the main event rather than Dillion having to basically reverse positions with no logical reason at all. Johnnie Cochran was the first choice, but when that didn't materialize, they completed a deal for Robert Shapiro (I'm not making this up). Anyway, a few days before the show Shapiro backed out at the last minute. WCW made a last-ditch attempt to get Cochran, who claimed to have liked the idea and would have been willing to do it, but darn those previous commitments" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998

"As usual, McMichael was awful. DUD" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998.

"With the match at its most pathetic, Tony Schiavone screamed about how this was Hogan at his best" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998

"It was really funny to see The Barbarian in the ring wearing a tie acting concerned, killing his gimmick" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998

"They had throughout the show teased a new member of the nWo. Out came a bearded Ed Leslie" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998

"The NWO came out with Savage, still unconscious from the beating three hours earlier, on their shoulders with a Sting mask on" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 02, 1998

"They showed a music video with Page and the flock. Page beat everyone up in the video, and then in the interview acted like the music video was real life. You can't play that game in the 90's" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998

"Bulldog is trying to break DiMaggio's streak for most consecutive horrible matches" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998

"Steiner came out with Ted Dibiase, accepted the shirt, and turned on the NWO, which made perfect sense since there were five of them and one of him. They beat his ass while Ted Dibiase tried to figure out a way to avoid not looking stupid just standing there" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998

"In the leave your brain at the office match, Nash was DQ'd against Raven in a NO-DQ match for giving two power bombs to Lodi and getting arrested" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998.

"Jericho, who was wrestling Eddie Guerrero (his tag team partner, figure that one out), started running down the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Well the heat was expensive this time and the crowd went totally out of control throwing things. Ringsiders were getting nailed with bottles and and security had to call 30 back up police officers. Several fans were injured. Guerrero had to play face and say he was going to give Jericho a Cornhuskers ass whipping" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998

"Curt Hennig came out for his main event against Ric Flair. He became human target practice until Flair said he was going to give him a Tom Osborne (Nebraska Coach) ass whipping" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998.

"The building was said to look like a war zone by the end of the night. WCW security said it was the worst fan behavior ever at a WCW event" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 09, 1998.

"Bischoff and Hogan did an interview saying that Savage brought his wife, now his ex-wife, into the dressing room to be one of the boys, and she was there she 'did' the boys. Savage had already done a deal Thursday saying to Hogan if you want to know who the real man is, 'ask your wife'. It got better later in the show when Hogan said that he was the only reason Savage's mom and dad had a house and made some reference to Savage's brother (Lanny Poffo) with a limp wrist as to indicate whatever a limp wrist is supposed to indicate" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 16, 1998.

"Despite rumors to the contrary, Bischoff has no interest in signing Ahmed Johnson. Johnson did propose the idea of doing a program against Goldberg. Can you even imagine that one?" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 16, 1998.

"At one point Savage said that he was going to crush Brian Adams, and at that point everyone couldn't stop laughing" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 16, 1998.

"The entire show was built around Hogan and Savage trying to get the Harvard Lampoon Man of the Year Award" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 16, 1998.

"There is a hardcore porn movie out on video with a wrestling storyline called 'Nude World Order'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 16, 1998

"Gene Okerlund interviewed J.J. Dillon who tried to give credibility to one of those nonsensical WCW storylines. In this one, the powerbomb was ruled legal, but only for the Giant vs. Nash match on the show. The reason? Because The Giant asked for it to be legal. And of course as it turns out, the move was never used during the match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Chris Jericho retained the WCW cruiserweight title beating Dean Malenko in 14:42. After the match, Gene Okerlund came to the ring, blowing off Jericho and browbeating Malenko something fierce, telling him he'd lost on four PPV shows in a row, that he was a loser, that he was supposed to win the match and he blew it again. It looked more like Okerlund turning heel, while the normally expressionless Malenko acted like he was about to cry" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Hulk Hogan went to a no decision with Randy Savage in 16:21 in a cage match. This was a different cage than in the Hogan-Piper match. And if that match was nicknamed "Age in the Cage", I'd hate to think what this would have to be called. Lack of suspense in a fence? Crowd silence for poor violence? Yawner en la juela? Living proof that Geritol and steroids are a deadly combination?" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"The television cameras were outside rather than inside, so we got nothing but shots of foggy guys wrestling badly through wire. This was a totally pathetic match, made worse by both guys blading the hell out of themselves in an attempt to get a crowd reaction. This got no heat which only made it worse. Savage gigged himself three times, until he was covered with blood, and still nobody cared. For no reason, Mikey Jay simply unlocked the cage door so both could go outside and try to brawl there. That didn't work either. When Savage went to the top of the cage, Ed Leslie showed up to save the day, beating up Mikey Jay and taking the key. Couldn't he have just politely asked and Mikey would have opened the door? With Leslie in the ring, he dared Savage to jump. He climbed down. Luckily Sting had enough time to get up to the rafters and make the save. The four guys had a stare down with nobody moving for what seemed like minutes. I've seen more exciting wrestling among at the figures at a Wax Museum. Finally Savage jumped Sting and gave him a piledriver, but there was almost no reaction to the turn. Savage then spit at Hogan and left. Then the show went off the air. Hogan had better be thankful that he and Savage did that two on eight triple decker cage match at Uncensored a few years back, because if he hadn't, people might remember this as the worst match of both mens career" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Every time I hear Brian Adams entrance music I keep thinking he is going to show up riding a horse like one of the Three Musketeers" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Ray Traylor clotheslined Scott Steiner into a pool. The people backstage were freaking because the pool was supposed to be saved for Hall & Nash. Steiner came out of the pool all wet and got into the ring and wrestled, leaving water spots everywhere" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Giant came out. Nash escaped doing a cannonball into the pool" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998.

"Sting made his entrance, coming out of a helicopter for the main event" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Luger looks like a Greek statue, except a Greek statue has more wrestling moves" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Raven pinned Brad Armstrong with a DDT in five seconds" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998.

"Eddie Guerrero pinned Chavo Jr. in a match where the loser would be the servant of the winner in 1:59 with the frog splash. It's ludicrous to do an angle match like this and only give it two minutes" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"The Giant challenged 8 men in the NWO to a handicap match. After head butting everyone, he powerbombed Konnan in 1:23 for the DQ and was arrested and his hands put in a chain. Nash came out and threw coffee in his face, so he broke the cuffs and ran Nash off. The tried to sell this for the rest of the show as the greatest moment in sports history" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 23, 1998

"Jericho did a post match interview saying he had made a list of his 1,000 holds, which (though designed to be bad) flopped majorly" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998

"Jericho then said that Lenny Lane, who he called Larry, had stolen his ring gear, his ring outfit, his Juvi mask, his title belt, and his Lover Boy tapes" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998

"Hogan gets worse by the week. It's amazing to see a bout where it improved 200% when Nash tagged in" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998.

"Goldberg pinned Renegade in 40 seconds. Goldberg's left eye was busted open" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998.

"Kendall Windham beat El Dandy in 2:41 with a bulldog. After the match, Tony Schiavone said 'A good big man can beat a good little man any day of the week'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998.

"I'm just wondering who in power got caught with marital indiscretion that Prince Iaukea has photos of" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998

"They had one channel on DirectTV for the TNT feed, and other would air Nitro without commercials. At one point during the break, Lee Marshall got into an argument with Bischoff and Bischoff actually took a bump from him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998

"WCW is trying to get Disco Inferno chosen for the Lawler role (in Man on the Moon) although I this point I don't think that Disco has even been notified of it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 30, 1998

"Disco Inferno debuted the piledriver as his new finisher since Hogan took the Stunner away from him for Ed Leslie" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998

"To make it complete deja vu, Doug Dillinger then used the (handcuff) key to unlock Neidhart. It was explained that Dillinger always keeps the spare key (in his pants). Try to make logic out of that. Like WCW issues out handcuffs before every Nitro to Rude but Dillinger always keeps a key. Everyone and everything about this angle is sinking like they are working in quicksand" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998

"Nash & Savage beat Sting & Luger in 6:26. Fairly bad" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998

"After the commercial break, they showed back up and Piper beat Hogan in 5:05 of a match that was horrible. The ring was filling with garbage" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998

"Bobby Walker and Virgil, who were originally fired, have been re-hired" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998.

"God was Heenan bad, talking about how Iaukea had just gotten back from Japan where he had gone undefeated (which was months ago, he has been on WCW every week as of late) and called him Prince King" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998

"Bulldog & Neidhart NC Hennig & Adams. More quicksand. The bell rang for no reason and they all had a lousy brawl to the back. A worst match of the year candidate in another year. This year maybe it is just the worst match of the week" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998

"Rick Steiner pinned Scott Norton in a clumsy awful match. Scott Steiner came to ringside and threw a dog collar to Norton. Rick got it away as he was supposed to, then went to punch Norton, but froze realizing that wasn't the spot planned. It looked really bad. He then clumsily let Norton pick him up for the back suplex where he could punch Norton a few times to lead to the pin" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 06, 1998.

"The red Viper went driving off while Edward Harrison Leslie sexually harassed poor Elizabeth right in front of a slew of dumbfounded police officers" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 13, 1998.

"Curt Hennig and Brian Adams beat Smith and Neidhart in 10:02. This was horrible on many levels. Poor Tony Schiavone was pushing for all he was worth to sell the previous match on Thunder, which was the worst match in the history of the show, as a classic. Then the match started and it was as bad as the previous match. This was not a night to be at the Miami Arena. By the grace of God they went to a long commercial break and we had a choice of watching ads for a movie, hearing John Lithgow talk about dialing 10-321 to at least give us a tip on saving money, or watching Raw where Austin and McMahon were drawing ratings records. The poor fans in Miami had to watch the match, which consisted of one long headlock. When they came back, there was a ref bump, loud boring chants, Bulldog's knee was out, Neidhart was hurt and mercifully they went to the finish" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 13, 1998.

"Nash came out looking mighty fried with his brain obviously somewhere other than the interview as he babbled on about almost nothing. He made a shoot comment, while wearing a Savage t-shirt, that if he wears a shirt or anyone for too long they get fired" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 13, 1998.

"The Tampa show was a pay-per-listen which only attracted 700 buys" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 13, 1998.

"Bubba (the Love Sponge) got in the cage and turned on Sting, who made his own comeback, but Bubba froze and forgot to sell, which made Sting look like an idiot" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 13, 1998.

"They did tapings at Disney. Most of the top stars were gone, so they used that as a chance to drug test everyone" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 13, 1998.

"Warrior got lost in mid thought and walked around silently for nearly one minute of dead time, and then said something about patience being a virtue" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 31, 1998.

"Scott Steiner did another interview with Buff Bagwell acting like Rick Steiner and playing fake dog growling sounds over the p.a." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 31, 1998

"Luger beat Brian Adams. Match was so boring that if you look up boring in your computer dictionary, they'll be playing round the clock tapes of it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 31, 1998

"This is not meant to be funny, because it really isn't, but next time you see Warrior, look close at his face, particularly the mouth area. I don't know what he's taken in his life but whatever it is, it has caused his facial structure to change to where his face resembles a baboon" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 31, 1998.

"Hogan & Giant vs. Goldberg & Nash ended up with half the world interfering right in front of the ref and a pinfall counted (anyway)" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 31, 1998.

"Okerland was talking about Giant weighing 541 and Stevie Ray weighing 303, and then mentioned Giant having a 190 pound weight advantage" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 31, 1998

"Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day?" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"Nash told a story in regard to Hellwig about a guy who fell asleep for years and woke up surrounded by Wolves" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"In the only highlight of the show, and it's bad when the highlight of the show is a J.J. Dillon interview, Dillon, the undisputed champion of the coin toss, called out Arn Anderson. Dillon said he wanted an off the record conversation with Arn Anderson. How can something be off-the-record when it's being viewed by six million people?" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998.

"Eddie Guerrero did an interview and said he was going to wrestle because he didn't want to get sued by Bischoff. He then did a match with Brian Adams where he laid on the ground and covered up and basically did nothing, and began the systematic destruction of the live TV show as he got pinned in 2:23. The crowd live hated this. But it got worse. Ernest Miller pinned Scott Riggs in 2:38. Fans were booing this bad, especially when Riggs was selling kicks that were badly missing. The finishing kick was so bad that Riggs was smart enough to kick out of it and they went to the same finish about 15 seconds later for the pin. Konnan, is his home town, beat Marty Jannetty in 9:07. Konnan sold almost the entire match. The only thing notable is Jannetty got his first haircut in 18 years and looked like a new person. The problem is nobody recognized who this new person was and the fans who were really into Konnan were not enjoying this aging gigolo David Cassidy at 40 looking pretty boy whipping on their guy in a match that felt like it lasted six weeks" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"Buff Bagwell came out (dressed) as a Jamaican doctor to heal Scott Steiner" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"Evan Kourageous earned his title shot (at Juvy) I guess by losing 45 straight matches on WCW Saturday Night, but he whipped Juvy most of the way. It would have made a great story with all of the near falls and this big upset on the verge of happening, except nobody cares about Kourageous, the only announcer picking up on the story was Heenan, the match blew, and the blonds (removing their tops in the audience) killed the crowd anyway" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"Hogan throwing stomps like a guy in his first day of training school and scratching guys backs wasn't going to get the crowd back at this point" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998.

"A bunch of steam came out so Warrior was supposed to come out, but the steam got out too fast. The NWO guys came out, and right before we were going to see the Hogan vs. Hart showdown, more steam came. When it cleared, Hart had disappeared" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"Sting signed a new seven figure contract and no longer wants to work on Thursdays" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998.

"Hall isn't happy that Mike Enos is using one of his moves since he only has three or four" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998.

"Page did an interview claiming he brought in Rodman and Leno. Warrior said he didn't. Reminds of when Cactus Jack did that stupid angle where he had amnesia. He knew it was so lame that he finally did an interview saying of course he didn't have amnesia and it was all to fool whoever he was fueding with. For the next six months after the interview, Schiavone would still bring up how he had amnesia" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"Goldberg vs. Giant was advertised as the main event of both Terre Haute and Peoria. Some time back, Goldberg had asked for those days off and and J.J. Dillon gave him the days off. Somehow, with the typical great communication internally, the promotions department never knew and continued to advertise him. Nobody knew there was a problem until the day of the Terre Haute show when they realized the only match advertised was Goldberg vs. The Giant and Goldberg wasn't there. The deal turned into a disaster as the original thinking was that maybe 40 percent of the 7,000+ who paid would actually go to the box office the week after the show and ask for refunds. As it turned out, all but 1,800 got refunds so the idea of doing what they did in Providence was ruled out although WCW again didn't do itself any favors by booking a secure return date that fans could use those tickets for instead of refunding them. So instead, the decision was made to not inform the crowd in Terre Haute about Goldberg not being there, and to basically warm up all the cars and all sprint out of the building like Earl Hebner in Montreal the minute the Page-Hennig match was over and before anyone in the crowd realized what was up and started throwing furniture" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 07, 1998

"They found Ed Leslie in the locker room hung upside down from the ceiling and asleep" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 14, 1998.

"Raven told Lodi to tell Saturn to break Riggs' fingers or Raven gets to break his. So he let Raven break his fingers. Saturn then nearly attacked the trainer trying to attend to him. I know if I just got my fingers broken, the first thing I'd do is attack every doctor in sight" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 14, 1998.

"Chris Jericho beat Jim Neidhart in a TV title defense in 4:42. I can't even begin to explain what happened. Obviously in some drug-induced stupor they thought re-creating the Montreal finish would make for a good finish" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 14, 1998.

"The cage lowered. The steam came flying and when it cleared, Giant was asleep, Warrior was sitting in a chair in the ring and Hogan ran away, although not before Warrior hit Hogan with a chair shot that looked right out of a bad first day of wrestling school" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 14, 1998.

"Benoit is about four week from being ready to wrestle again. He was at Nitro and very unhappy since he was flown in for the show and then told he wasn't going to be a part of it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 14, 1998.

"WCW FALL BRAWL POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up - 1 (00.8%)
Thumbs down - 112 (99.2%)
In the middle - 0 (00.0%)
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"Whether Fall Brawl set a new standard for awful in PPV is a debatable issue. What isn't debatable is that it was near the top of any list of the worst wrestling PPV shows ever" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Fall Brawl featured a main event so bad it was even worse then people's imaginations would have been of the Jay Leno match going in. With the possible exception of the Triple Decker cage match a few years back on Uncensored and perhaps some Andre the Giant matches towards the end of his career, this may have been the worst PPV main event of all time, about 20 minutes of bad wrestling made worse by a finish that simply defied description. Unlike previous WCW shows with bad main events, they didn't have anything on the undercard with the exception of the Raven match that remotely saved it, and featured four other matches that would have won worst match on any normal 'bad' PPV show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"Rick Steiner went to a no-contest with Scott Steiner...Bagwell collapsed as if he'd re-injured his neck...The poor announcers had to sell it even though NOBODY in the crowd was buying it. They then had to do this long angle of the match ending, everyone acting concerned and Bagwell being immobilized and put on a stretcher and taken to the ambulance. It was torture because the crowd was booing rather than acting concerned. Since nobody bought it, nobody cared when when Scott and Bagwell jumped out of the ambulance and attacked Rick -*" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"Juventud Guerrera retained the WCW cruiserweight title beating Silver King. The problem with the match at the outset was how evident it was that Silver King is no cruiserweight, except that all Mexicans are cruiserweights in WCW. Since Silver King has no credibility, the fans were chanting boring early. Juvi was wearing 'Sweet Surrender' on his trunks which I'm told is some kind of a gay deal which someone told him to wear as a practical joke" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Konnan beat Scott Hall in 12:03. Hall was doing a drunk gimmick, with Vincent holding a drink and Hall frequently taking swigs of it... Hall tried a hair pull on Konnan but there wasn't any...At another point, Hall held Konnan in an abdominal stretch and grabbed the drink from Vincent and began drinking...DUD" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"After the main event, the live crowd was pissed about the match, the Warrior gimmick which is dying in every city, and the night in general, booing heavily and throwing things at the announcers. This was one for the record books. -****" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"They went to Mike Tenay live at the airport. Even thought it was 8pm, it was bright daylight at the airport, which I guess was an excuse to keep him out of the booth and allow Tony Schiavone to rip on him for the next hour" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Van Hammer was in a new role playing a 70's hippie character with a Billy Graham hand-me-down ring costume" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Ernest Miller was then arrested for outside interference. They took him away in a squad car" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"Warrior took disciple under the ring. After hearing about Curt Hennig two weeks ago (went to the bathroom under the ring which was so gross it made two of the wrestlers hiding under the ring with him throw up) I don't even want to think about what Hellwig and Ed Leslie were doing down there. Probably they brought their portable VCR so they could study the latest Japanese moves to incorporate into their future matches" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"In kind of a cute piece, Bischoff backstage told Eddie Guerrero he has to go to Japan and miss his daughter's birthday" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Davey Boy Smith pinned Barbarian in 3:43. No worse than you would think, but no better either. Jim Neidhart came out for no reason. Then came the smoke. Warrior showed up with the Disciple, who was asleep" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Jericho was supposed to wrestle Wrath, but he got lost and locked out of the building. Two major problems. Someone forgot to lock the door so when Jericho tried to open it, it actually opened and he had to close it fast and pound on it again. When Wrath got there and chased Jericho, the camera stayed on for too long and you could actually see Wrath not only catch Jericho, but run right by him and pass him without touching him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Mongo was carried out on a stretcher. Unfortunately, they didn't take him to a wrestling school" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Lodi showed up and said Saturn threw him in the river. He had a fish in his pants" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"Luger racked Neidhart. Neidhart was so unbalanced on Luger's shoulders that he nearly dropped him, and he needed an MRI on his shoulder. There was concern the next day that he might not be able to wrestle in War Games. As the joke goes, he asked the doctor if he'd be able to wrestle a good match in two days. The doctor said the injury wasn't that bad and there is no reason he couldn't. You know the punch line from there, especially if you saw the match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"Normal Smiley, who was never identified, had a confrontation with Ernest Miller. Real good. Just kidding. It was awful" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998

"When the show ended, the crowd was furious and chanting 'refund'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 21, 1998.

"WCW (produced) two PPV shows where the card itself literally wasn't known by virtually anyone until the day of the show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998

"Nitro was so bad, and granted Nitro is bad a lot of weeks, but this came off as a show that will start the erosion of the business over the long haul" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Nitro opened with Hall showing up acting like he was loaded and Doug Dillinger trying to sober him up. They went to the ring. It filled with steam. Disciple was there when the ring cleared asleep on the mat. Hogan and the NWO B&W showed up trying to recapture the prisoner but the dreaded, and I do mean dreaded, steam came. It must not have been the crippling variety of the nerve gas since nobody else fell asleep this time. The Disciple was gone when the smoke cleared. Warrior was then in the rafters with this blow-up doll dressed up like the Disciple. This was lame. We were supposed to think, since they didn't do close ups, that this doll was the same Disciple that was just in the ring...Actually I think at this point Bischoff was using the show as a model for his new book 'How to Kill the most rabid live crowd" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Hogan went to his dressing room. Warrior had it spray painted and there were small fires everywhere. Disciple was passed out in the bathroom. At this point, Bischoff was retitling his book 'How to Kill the Biggest Wrestling Company in the World" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Alex Wright came out and said he was sick of WCW. At this point, he's not exactly alone" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Mike Tenay insisted that Page is the people's champion. The people's champ did an interview and all the people where chanting 'Goldberg' at him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"At this point I was trying to find some form of entertainment out of this show so I decided to count the moves Ernest Miller would miss in this match. So he picks this night not to miss any. There was no way to have fun watching this show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998

"Main event saw Nash & Luger no decision with Giant & Stevie Ray. Can somebody get Bobby Walker to drop his lawsuit so we don't have to watch Stevie Ray in the main events. Beyond terrible" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Michael Buffer called the Giant the master of the powerslam" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Warrior came out with Disciple,who at this time was awake and wearing an OWN insignia on his jacket. After the show went off the air, they finished with Disciple hitting the ring and beating up Hogan while the crowd booed both guys and chanted 'Nitro sucks'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"WCW Saturday Night was taped on 9/22. All the results are elsewhere and it was so bad it isn't even worth wasting space on" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 28, 1998.

"Warrior showed up without the steam, as I hope they've learned that nerve gas kills ratings. Unfortunately, as this reaction showed, it wasn't the nerve gas, it's Warrior himself. He immediately was being booed out of the place with loud "Warrior Sucks" chants. A fan hit the ring in the middle of his interview and again he forgot what he was supposed to say" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998.

"The cops escorted not only the Horsemen, but Doug Dillinger out of the building and supposedly to jail. Later in the show when another fan hopped the guard rail, (Schiavone) said that's what happens when you send Dillinger out of the building to jail" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"Hogan and Hart laughed together. Luger & Konnan came out for the save but it just got weird and fell apart at this point. The lights went out. Warrior was supposed to do a run-in. They never got him in the ring to begin with due to massive miscommunication. The show just went off the air three minutes early" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"The Giant and Sting both no-showed Utica, NY on 9/23 where they were scheduled to be the main event" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"Raven will be appearing soon on an episode of The Dating Game" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"Wright did an interview and called Schiavone a pig, and an out of shape, overweight loser" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"The Horsemen came out, and for the the sixth straight show Arn Anderson was in the highest rated segment. Stevie Ray acted like he was going to stop them. Anderson hit him with a tire iron" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998.

"In the United Kingdom, they are now airing Thunder right after Nitro on Friday Nights. It's about a four-and-a-half hour nightly block of WCW which is said at this point to be pure torture" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"In the angle on 9/21 where Hogan found The Disciple asleep on a bathroom floor and the steam came, you can see a guy firing off a fire extinguisher through the bathroom window" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"Reports from the Baltimore show were really bad. Scott Hall replaced Bret Hart against Sting. The only notable thing was Hall saying there was going to be a big party at the hotel after the show, and asked all the young women to ask for Scott Hall and all the 'Cowboys frequently, secretly fond of each other' to ask for Kevin Nash" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"The only report we had from Erie is that WCW forgot to get plane tickets for the Mexican wrestlers" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 05, 1998

"This week's Scott Hall arrest was on 10/1 outside a strip club in Orlando, FL where he allegedly scratched up a $65,000 white limo with his keys, making a seven foot long scratch doing $2,000 worth of damage. The driver was still in the car and called the police" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998.

"There are some (within WCW) who believe The Giant saying he is staying is a double work and he's really leaving" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Villano IV was injured on Nitro from taking a mistimed double team move on a trap door" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Nitro on 10/5 in Columbia, SC drew a sellout. Fans live hated the show and were booing heavily at the end. The show opened with laughter. Laughter (which) is part of a cross promotion for the "Bride of Chuckie" movie" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Sting used a forklift to pick up, turn over and smash Hogan's limo. Nash and Luger smashed out the headlights. (The police were) right there watching. Sting looked for a knife to slash the tires, but nobody had one so he let the air out of the tires instead" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"They taped a Warrior interview. Warrior was there, but after the previous week they didn't dare put him before a live crowd so everyone could see him get booed out of the place. Even taped and pre-produced, his interview still sucked" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Hogan ran around backstage looking for his estranged Disciple. He wound up in his dressing room and saw Warrior in the mirror. Hogan started talking to him. Now we all saw Warrior in the mirror as well, even though it was supposed to be Hogan's dream. Bischoff couldn't see him and thought Hogan was going nuts. Warrior disappeared, but Hogan still saw him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Mike Tenay had a camera crew chasing down Nash, Konnan and Luger in their search for Scott Hall at a local tavern. They went to two places, one of which was deserted, another of which had maybe 15 people in it. Finally they found hall in a third place. Without any provocation, Nash attacked Hall and took him into the bathroom and closed the door. When they let Tenay in, Hall was asleep on the toilet" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"10 year-old Reid Fliehr started by saying "Mean, Gene!" which would have been cute had Mean Gene been there" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"The show ended with Sting vs. Hart. The entire match took place backstage which infuriated the crowd as they didn't have any bigscreens in the building" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998.

"The worst part was when Sting finally got the scorpion on Hart and Zbyszko started claiming it wasn't being applied properly, so he and Schiavone had this discussion about the finer points of the Scorpion while Bret Hart was selling it like it was the end of his career" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998.

"The main event on the 9/27 show in Erie, PA wound up as Hall vs. Nash, and it barely took place as Nash refused to wrestle Hall while he was drunk and walked off for the count out" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"One of Ultimo Dragon's students from Naucalpan was brought in for a tryout. He was given the name 'Tam Pong' in someone's idea of a practical joke" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Barry Darsow (doing his golfer gimmick) was supposed to wrestle Hammer, and blew it off saying that he had an early tee time and left. ...Scott Steiner then yelled over the p.a. at the crowd 'Blow me'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Finale saw a rematch with Bulldog and Wright going to a double count out in 2:00. It was supposed to go longer and have a different finish, but they ran out of tape and just signaled for the guys to go home" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 12, 1998

"Dale Torborg came out wearing a race car driver pit crew outfit which might as well have had the word 'jobber' written on it. Poor Torborg in his Nitro debut not only got booed out of the building as a babyface against Kendall Windham, but looked terrible and then blew out his knee doing his finisher. Mike Tenay praised him as one of the best wrestlers to come out of the Power Plant. That's a recommendation the facility certainly didn't need" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"Warrior came out, and was booed out of the place, and asked Sting to let him be his partner in a tag team match. Sting never even accepted before the segment ended, but they just pretended that he did" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998.

"Judy Bagwell has clearly gotten carried away with her TV stardom as she had a make-over and a new look. Scott Steiner gave him (Buff) a low blow and dropped him throat first on the top rope. This should have gotten super heat considering Bagwell's injury but it got no heat at all because by this time nobody actually believes Bagwell was even hurt in the first place. Judy did the angle no favors by laughing right into the camera as Marcus was doing a great sell job" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"Major rule of thumb in pro wrestling. Don't ever show a guy, particularly a face, running to chase someone when they can't run" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"In the high point of the show, Gene Okerlund interviewed Rick Steiner, who had a verbal duel with the puppet Chucky. Poor Steiner having to be put in a position to challenge a puppet to fight" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"Warrior nerve gassed all of them. For whatever reason, they didn't sell the nerve gas. So Sting came out with two baseball bats to clean house while Warrior was laying on the floor trying to catch his breath after all that exertion" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"Most of the Mexican wrestlers missed the TV Taping because their individual contract discussions with J.J. Dillon (yes, that's really his role) took longer than expected. Nobody from WCW thought to call Arn Anderson at the building to tell him the guys would be late, so he was blowing a fuse waiting for them to arrive" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"A limo, supposedly containing Nash, peeled out of the parking lot. Nash wasn't even at the show to begin with" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"Magnum Tokyo wanted to join and Eddie shoved him away because he wasn't Latin. It took Eddie forever to recruit Dandy" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 19, 1998

"Disciple did the funniest interview of the year. He tried to be a face but nobody cheered him. He let people in on the big secret. Hogan gets guys who have no business in the company jobs because they are his friends. He mentioned he wasn't one of them, because as we all know, he was a big enough star without anyone's help. But he pointed out that Hogan's nephew Horace and challenged him. You could have heard a pin drop. Disciple got the pin with the world's slowest stunner in 1:46. Horace jumped him after the match. Hold off your votes for feud of the year" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998

"Scott Hall's ex-wife appeared on Orlando radio where she claimed 99% of wrestlers were on drugs. Jim Duggan's wife called up and claimed it was 10%. Billy Gunn then called up and said that if he did drugs, his wife would kick him out of the house" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998

"The announcers were paying to much attention to the match that they didn't even realize La Parka had turned on his teammates" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998.

"Chavo stormed off talking about forming a Pepe World Order" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998

"Mayor Sharon Belton came out and was booed out of the building...Bischoff came out and argued with the Mayor. John Randall and Kirby Pucket made mean faces and Bischoff backed down. Amazing to see a high profile politician doing a pro wrestling angle to get over. The world gets stranger by the minute" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998

"Nash was pretending to be drunk, as was Hall. When finally tagged in, Nash acted as if being drunk was all an act, and then just as the match was getting heat, the bell rang for absolutely no reason" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998.

"Both Hogan and Warrior merchandise can't even be given away" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 26, 1998.

"Hogan pinned Warrior. Warrior came out to 'Warrior Sucks' chants. He was acting like they were cheering him...Warrior came back with a series of mistimed punches. After more messed up looking spots, Hogan pulled this bag out of his trunks. It looked like drug paraphernalia but it was flash paper. Hogan was supposed to throw a fireball at Warrior, but after attempting to light the paper in slow-motion, he threw the fireball and nothing happened. The whole place groaned. Poor Warrior, who didn't have a clue to begin with, really didn't know what to do. Somehow the paper then ignited, nearly setting Hogan's hand on fire. He was supposed to throw a fireball and somehow Dave Penzer was supposed to put his jacket on Warrior, and somehow Warrior was supposed to make a comeback. Warrior improvised. Hogan sliced his forehead open and threw a messed up clothesline. Warrior came back with three mistimed clotheslines. Horace hit Warrior with a chair and Hogan got the pin. Horace poured lighter fluid on Warrior and they teased they were going to set him on fire. Hogan told Horace he'd passed the NWO initiation. -***** " - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 11, 1998

"The Giant was paying so much attention at one point that he forgot to kick out of a near fall" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 11, 1998.

"Alex Wright pinned Johnny Swinger. Swinger is Canadian and Wright is German. Crowd chanted USA" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 11, 1998.

"In an article in the Sunter SC Daily Item on 10/21, Eddie Guerrero said he is offended when Hulk Hogan calls himself God" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 11, 1998.

"On the Time Magazine internet balloting for Man of the Century, Ric Flair is now in third place trailing Jesus and Adolf Hitler. Raven is in ninth place" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 11, 1998.

"Alex Wright vs. Barry Horowitz went 3:32 with no finish as the Wolfpac just showed up, Wright left, and Nash patted Horowitz on the back" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 16, 1998

"Eric (Bischoff) and Elizabeth did an interview. If you thought the Hogan segment was bad, this was all time bad, ranking up with the segment where Roddy Piper fought his buddies for 18:00. They hired three stunt men to act as nerdy execs for Eric to bully. Eric ended up punching one and kicked the other two. The blows looked horrible and their selling of the those was blows was like all-time worst in history" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 16, 1998.

"Buff tried to punch his mom" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 16, 1998

"Let's see, they've (Scott Steiner & Biff Bagwell) got a title shot right there live for the tag titles against a 55 year-old woman who went into the ring in street clothes and wearing earings, and they walked out. Judy then cut this terrible promo. Anyway, they're going to do a tag title match on the PPV with Rick & Rudy defending the belts, being that the only one of the four who is actually healthy enough to wrestle is Judy" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 16, 1998

"Booker T tried a folding press. It wouldn't fold so it looked hilarious. It was so bad that the announcers were joking about it. Booker was even laughing" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 16, 1998

"Glacier told Ernest Miller that he didn't want him to watch his back because they both came from a karate background" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 16, 1998

"Just five days before the World War III PPV in Auburn Hills, MI, there are only two matches announced for the show with no episodes of Nitro left to promote them" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998

"You haven't lived until you've seen Saturn and Hector Garza's attempts at brawling" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998

"Buff & Scott Steiner brought out a guy in drag as Rick & Scott's mom. Buff started beating her up. Scott said it would be okay. Rick came out and said it wasn't his Mom, and pulled the wig and dress off" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998

"Hogan came out still running for President. They brought out a chunky Monica Lewinsky lookalike as Hogan's 'intern' and she pulled a cigar out of her bra. She went to leave and Bobby Heenan made a remark about having to roll her out in a wheelbarrow" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998

"Bret Hart nearly gave up his Calgary Sun column which everyone found so perversely entertaining because he tried to make sense out of his own character's storylines in WCW" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998

"Jim Hellwig was in Wichita but they had nothing for him to do. Must be nice to pay a guy ($35,000 per night) and have nothing for him to do" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998.

"Glacier did the Asiatic Spike and none of the announcers had a clue what to say. Eventually Lee Marshall named it the 'choked out by Glacier hold'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 23, 1998

"Stevie Ray vs. Van Hammer was so horrible that it really has to be seen to be believed" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 30, 1998.

"After the match, Alex Wright beat up Pepe until Chavo made the save" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 30, 1998.

"Wrath probably won't be doing the movie he was up for as it would require 40 weeks of filming in Morocco" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 30, 1998.

"Leno asked Hogan if he had any Presidential campaign issues ("flat tax brother"). Leno asked him what the flat tax should be. Hogan stuttered before coming up with 16 percent. When Leno asked him how he got that number, he stuttered again and mumbled something about 16 percent being higher than 15 percent" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 7, 1998

"Scott Hall had a mishap wrecking a rented Cadillac in Orange County, Florida. He fell asleep at the wheel. The car rolled over three times. They took a breathalyzer and he wasn't even intoxicated." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 7, 1998

"Scott Steiner showed up to plead guilty to terroristic threats. Paul Kaspereen, a worker with the Georgia Department of Transportation, was directing traffic and wouldn't let Steiner's car into a closed lane. Steiner climbed out of his truck and said "Move or I will run you over". Steiner got back in the car and drove it, hitting Kaspareen lightly. He then told him again to move or he'd run him over, and then hit him a second time. Steiner's attorney told the judge that he plead guilty only because he thought the jury might convict him because of his wrestling heel character" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 7, 1998

"Fans were taunting Bret Hart about his (groin) injury. (Hart) said that none of them even had groins" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 7, 1998.

"Van Hammer was an honorary cheerleader during the Cowboys-Vikings Thanksgiving game and was pointed out by John Madden" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 7, 1998

"The Giant was accused by a hotel clerk of coming up to her and saying 'Do you know why they call me The Giant?' and she responded 'Because you're so tall' and he responded by allegedly whipping it out and rubbing it on her. Because of The Giant's size, the police were scared to death and sent 24 officers to the Mid South Coliseum to pick him up" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 14, 1998.

"At one point, Scott Hall wrecked three cars in a month and two within 24 hours" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 14, 1998.

"Bret Hart came out for an interview. With no programs to talk about, he mainly talked about his cat. He was becoming target practice, and told Gene Okerlund that those cups (being thrown) are being aimed at him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 14, 1998

"Misterio beat Villano V. With Mike Tenay not out there, Tony Schiavone and Lee Marshall didn't know if it was Villano IV or Villano V. As if the roman numeral on the trunks isn't a dead giveaway" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 14, 1998

"Tupelo show was a mess as they were stalling for Giant to be released from Prison. They had Silver King & Lizmark Jr. vs. Ciclope & Damian go 20:00, then Prince Auekea vs. Lodi go 20:00 and then did a 30:00 intermission. They wound up having Ciclope come out again without his mask as Elvis Gonzalez and do a job for Chris Adams" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 14, 1998

"They had La Parka on the ground and drew those chalk lines around him, except he was still laying there. Gene uttered the immortal line to Juvi as he was talking Spanish, 'Don't talk Mexican to me'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 18, 1999.

"There was a ton of heat on Luger and Giant for the deal they pulled at the 1/5 tapings in Gainesville, GA. Giant came out in his jeans, not even getting dressed, for his main event with Luger. They got in the ring and Giant just lied down and both laughed." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 18, 1999.

"Ralphus reminds me of Chumley the Walrus on the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoon show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 25, 1999.

"Poor Tony Schiavone had announced earlier in the show that Kidman and Misterio Jr had won the coin flip and would start. Then, when Guerrera's music was second, he said that Guerrera must have won the coin flip and he and Kidman would start. And then Misterio started with Kidman. The fans started chanting "USA". Schiavone then explained, and I'm not making this up, how the rules of the match make no sense and there is no logic in ever tagging out under these rules. When Rey and Kidman wanted to tag out, Psicosis and Guerrera acted like they didn't want to get in the ring. Since nothing made any sense, they just had a great match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 25, 1999.

"The show began with Disco, Jericho and Johnny Swinger wearing sombreros and making racial remarks. Problem was the crowd was 70% Anglo. They started stomping the sombreros and calling the crowd wetbacks, and it went downhill from there. Silver King, who was doing a cowboy gimmick, had been learning rope tricks and apparently trying them in the ring, somehow wound up by accident nearly tying himself up with his own rope" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 08, 1999.

"Hart did this Mexican spot where he faked getting a low blow and started selling his groin. Schiavone said Piper kicked him low. Heenan, who knew the spot, said he didn't think so. Schiavone, when he figured out what the angle was, said only an idiot like Heenan would say that he kicked him in the groin when he didn't." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 15, 1999.

"There was some heat on Hogan calling the camera man a 'jiggly, jiggly, jew' on Nitro, but eveidently not enough for the segment not to have been replayed on every show during the week" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 15, 1999.

"Michael Buffer came out for absolutely no reason. See, he was there to announce the main event. But get this, there was no main event. Flair, at this moment, fell out of the turnip truck, grabbed a hoe and kept falling down" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 22, 1999.

"Scott Hall had problems on the first plane going to Germany, where he apparently got sick and was harrassing Terry Taylor the entire weekend in Germany. He got into a fight with sometime girlfriend Emily Sherman (neice of Turner exec Brad Siegel) including a cake throwing incident. In the dressing room, he made a threat that he was going to do something to Taylor in the ring. This led to a roughly 35 to 40 minute delay in the building before Thunder started with this mess being sorted out. Dave Penzer was trying to kill time telling jokes which only made things worse because the crowd was killing him. The reaction was largely negative, but they weren't throwing things at him and it never threatened to become violent" - Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 28, 1999.

"WCW.com ran a contest involving Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. I'm actually not sure what the contest was for. Anyway, we got numerous reports from people who said that if you vote for Flair, the total number for Hogan automatically increases by five." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 28, 1999.

"Scott Hall was run over after the PPV. He was outside a bar and fell down. Wes Benton, a WCW employee, didn't see him behind him and backed out, and heard a scream. Benton stopped the car, which was on top of Hall's ankle. He realized and moved the car off the ankle. It was nothing serious." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 01, 1999.

"In a spot that aired twice on the show, they aired a promo for Nitro that had never aired before, (featuring) Sean Waltman who hasn't been with the company for a year" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 22, 1999.

"Raven used an oar to Bigelow's groin" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 22, 1999.

"WCW Legal Affairs sent a letter to Chuck Black of Lethal Records complaining about a CD called 'hWo Harlem World Order'. Lethal Records then claimed that investigating trademarks for New World Order uncovered nothing having to do with WCW, but a registration for clothing by a gay clothing line (Brawn of California) that has been used since 1992" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 29, 1999.

"Hart and Bischoff tried to work the people and the wrestlers backstage that the angle was a shoot as they argued backstage with no cameras on in front of the wrestlers, but Bischoff has done that so often now that the wrestlers consider it a pathetic joke and no one bought it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 05, 1999.

"Ricky Rachmann has signed a contract. The first week he was on live, the first words out of his mouth were how he didn't know much about wrestling" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 05, 1999.

"Goldberg was originally scheduled against Bigelow., who is out with minor elbow surgery. They had planned to do the first ever Goldberg vs. (Bret) Hart match as a replacement however things got screwed up. Hart was in Toronto doing promotion for Nitro and was supposed to get picked up and taken to the airport. His ride never came." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 05, 1999.

"There will be an open change on WCW Saturday Night to go along with all the visual changes on Nitro. The changes in Nitro remind me of putting a nice, fresh coat of paint on a house that had just been hit by a Tornado" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"The plan was for Stevie Ray to win and rename the (nWo) Black & White into a new group that would be a modern version of The Black Panthers. That's a thirty year old term, and Adams and Horace are white" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"Raven & Saturn did an interview where they talked about being friends in high school and both liked Beulah McGillicuddy. Saturn said, 'That was Tommy'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"Chris Benoit was on FAN in Toronto and asked if he thought that there was a conspiracy to destroy the company from within. He said 'It appears that way'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"WCW took out a huge ad in USA Today with the new logo which read "Looks like something a bird left on the hood of my car", and never mentioned wrestling once" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"Wrestlers are making bets backstage over who will be the first to trip on the new set" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"WCW ordered a ton of new business card, stationary etc. with the new logo and the address on all the cards spelled 'Altanta'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"Flair is about to be dropped from the Time Magazine Man of the Century internet balloting where he is currently in second place behind Jesus Christ. More than 20 million people have voted, making it the biggest web poll in history, with Flair getting more than 310,000 votes as of 3/31. Flair is being dropped because Janice Castro, the editor of Time.com, said his showing is due to unfair lobbying from wrestling web sites. Jesus is about to go down as well, as religious organizations have gotten members to flood the ballot box too. Time.com is planning an exit strategy, however with the God of wrestling and the Son of God removed, the big winner in the poll appears to be Adolf Hitler, who would become the front runner" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"They traded hard garbage can shots. Tony Schiavone in his infinite retardedness killed those by saying that they sounded great but really don't hurt. After Schiavone explained how the garbage can shots don't hurt, Bigelow went out and killed Hak dead with a wicked shot. Schiavone then (again) said it made a great noise , but didn't hurt as bad as it sounded" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999.

"In an employees meeting the week before the Vegas show, Bischoff told everyone that because of the new set, graphics, open and music, Nitro would do a 7.0" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 19, 1999.

"Flair was committed (to a mental hospital on Nitro Monday). On Thursday's Thunder they announce he's out of the mental hospital and backstage making changes on the card. On Sunday he wrestles in Minneapolis. But on Monday, one week later, he's been in the nut house for the entire week and still there, running around in the same underwear like he never left" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 03, 1999.

"They showed Hogan going in for knee surgery. Hogan was walking into the hospital, not selling it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 03, 1999.

"WCW is coming out with Goldberg, Hogan, Savage and Sting Air Fresheners. And Nash. The company that is marketing them wanted the first four. WCW begged them to include Nash." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 10, 1999.

"Flair showed up with the mental patients and a roided up girl, and was nearly the first casualty of the ramp" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 10, 1999.

"Barry Windham is actually out of action because he's having liposuction on his gut" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 10, 1999.

"Goldberg was on QVC and when asked abut what he's doing in the future, he said he really doesn't know because they don't tell him anything" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 10, 1999.

"Misterio beat Juventud Guerrerra with fans chanting 'DUI' at Guerrera" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 10, 1999.

"They are going to send DJ Ran to house shows thinking it will help attendance" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"Curt Hennig came out and did this really awful country singing. Duncum joined him and made it worse"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"Since Savage can't work at all anymore, the women took turns doing spots with the transvestite Nash"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"Nash came out in a big truck and cornered Savage's limo and poured sewage through the sun roof. Nash then said that the spot was sponsored by the sewage company"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"Hogan came back and suggested doing an old vs. new angle, largely because he wants to shoot on the new guys for never drawing money"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"Kaz Hayashi beat Lash Leroux. Fans chanted 'You both suck'."- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"Asya, under her real name Christi Wolf, was on the Jenny Jones show playing the role of someone who was a geek in high school and look at her now. Now she's no longer a geek. She's just a woman who looks like a guy on steroids with giant implants"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 7, 1999.

"WCW announced the signing of rap star Master P. P will appear at major television tapings including the Nitro at the Georgia Dome and The New Orleans Superdome. P bragged in a conversation that his appearing would sell out both shows." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Bischoff, who did commentary, said it looked like Hak had been drinking for four straight days" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Bischoff said the Higher Power was initialed VM and that on the other station they just keep recycling the same sh*t . Bischoff figured it was VM, but didn't know. Backstage when Raw was on and so many people were watching Raw instead of paying attention to their own live show, he was relieved that it was VM so he didn't look bad" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999

"Savage did an interview with the bucket wearing a red fur coat. Nash showed up holding a bag. Nash said he only brought one bag to the ring and Savage brought three. Nash left. A contortionist came out of the bag and dumped the (sewage) on Savage's head. It was nearly a disaster as the contortionist had trouble unzipping the bag and getting out" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"La Parka & Silver King beat Damien & Ciclope. This was a total complete disaster. Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan laughed their way through the match, saying over and over in the most demeaning tone that this was a 'Mexican Hardcore Match'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Piper asked Bagwell if he's ever main evented Madison Square Garden. Madison Square Garden is controlled by (the WWF)" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Savage's girls seduced Savage. Stupid Nash jumped into the limo and they slammed the door. Savage drove it a few yards and jumped out and a Hummer ran into the limo. They spent $100,000 to get a 2.7 quarter" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Ted Dibiase, who is still under contract although he is never used, was asked to come back and manage Van Hammer" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Steiner undid the protective mats around ringside. He then piledrove Sting on a protective mat." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"Some dogs attacked Sting. It actually wasn't Sting being attacked, but the dog trainer dressed up to look like Sting" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 14, 1999.

"The Great American Bash can be summed up in five words: This one was real bad" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 21, 1999.

"Master P, who Bischoff tried to get over as a life long wrestling fan, didn't even know the name of the guy he was doing his program with (Hennig) and referred to him as 'the cowboy guy'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 21, 1999.

"Thursday was supposed to be a grudge Flair vs. Benoit lumberjack match. However, WCW forgot to tell Flair he was booked. Jason Hervey was in Charlotte at request of management and they gave Flair off Thunder because they were producing an upcoming Flair home video, but never informed the people writing the show about Flair having the day off. When they panicked since Flair wasn't there at 6pm, they called him and told him to get to Syracuse. At the cost of thousands of dollars, they chartered a flight from Charlotte to Syracuse to get Flair to Thunder, but due to the weather problems it couldn't get off the ground until 7pm. The show was put together with the idea that Flair would do several interviews building to the Benoit match. So virtually the entire Thunder show was filling time. Flair finally arrived at 9:55pm, but they had already changed plans for the show because they had to be off the air at 10:03pm because TBS decreed that the Chimp movie had to start on time. When Flair got there, they told him he wasn't needed and to go right back home. So, as a panic move, the decision was made to turn the Kanyon-Saturn singles match into a tag title match. However, Bam Bam Bigelow wasn't there either, so Kanyon defended the titles with Page with zero explanation given to have this make sense. It wasn't even announced as a title match until about a minute left" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 21, 1999.

"Nash sold very little considering it was a 16-on-1 beating" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999.

"Tank Abbot it still being flown in to every Nitro and still under contract, they just aren't using him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999.

"There will be a Nitro Girls in bikinis PPV on 8/2. It makes perfect sense to put a PPV on a Monday Night" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999.

"Nash is trying to make himself the rebel outlaw with the belt, which is pretty hard when you're the booker saying WCW doesn't want you with the belt" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999.

"Bret Hart is planning on returning at the (big Georgia Dome show). In WCW's infinite wisdom on Nitro this week, they never once mentioned Hart was coming back but did do an angle to build for the Ernest Miller vs. Jerry Flynn match for the show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999.

"Nash is trying to make himself the rebel outlaw with the belt, which is pretty hard when you're the booker saying WCW doesn't want you with the belt" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999

"When Sting said 'I've got two words for you' and the crowd responded 'Suck it' in New Orleans, he thought the cameras were off. Boy did that come off as a lame finish to the TV show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: June 28, 1999.

"Hugh Morris had a large chunk fall out of his head, hair and all, during his Thunder match with Van Hammer" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 05, 1999.

"Backstage, Savage threatened Torrie, and even gave her a slap. She noticeably laughed, ruining the scene. Even worse was Savage confronting Gorgeous George, ripping her Nash t-shirt off and literally throwing her across the room" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 12, 1999.

"Also on the show is Disco Inferno vs. Ernest Miller with the loser not being able to dance anymore. The plan is that Miller would win but that Disco would still dance anyway and they'd just ignore the stipulation" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 12, 1999

"Buff has got to be the geekiest babyface in the business. He was kissing up to the crowd unmercifully. At the end, Buff told them to hit his music, and they didn't" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 12, 1999.

"Lodi said he knows all of Lenny's measurements. There was a closet in the corner with the word 'closet' on it. This stuff is bad" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 12, 1999.

"Eddie Guerrero claimed that one of the Mexicans stole his wallet but didn't know which one because they all wore masks" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 12, 1999.

"A ridiculously brutal Hardcore Battle Royal cost more than $100,000 to produce, was hyped so poorly it didn't result in one added buy, was so poorly lit it was nearly impossible to watch on television, and resulted in several needless injuries for wrestlers taking crazy bumps that didn't even get over because of how it was shot" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 19, 1999.

"La Parka was running around in jeans instead of his wrestling outfit" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 19, 1999.

"Judy Bagwell chased Ric Flair around the ring" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 19, 1999.

"Robert Wuhl, who plays the character 'Arliss', showed up in character and they called him Arliss. He was acting like he was a famous sports agent. It would be like Jerry Lawler selling for William Shatner and calling him Captain Kirk" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 26, 1999.

"Hogan on WCW Live, amongst other things, said Pat Patterson made a pass at him on a road trip" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 26, 1999.

"They've talked with Disco Inferno about taking a bump on his head and doing a gimmick where he thinks he's one of the established stars like Hogan and Savage and does promos mad at Benoit and Malenko for thinking they can take the main events spots" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: July 26, 1999.

"I had (a conversation) pointing out to someone in WCW that something on the last PPV made no sense in the storyline, and the response was 'with our buyrates, nobody sees the PPVs anyway'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"The fans booed Hogan a lot. Sing asked the fans if he should team with Hogan. They booed heavily. Sting, listening to the advice of the fans, then agreed to team with Hogan" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"Then Jason Hervey came out. Everyone thought he was terrible in the booth and the initial reports were that he'd be back there next week" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"Lash Leroux wrestled Prince Iaukea for 50 seconds. Those 50 seconds were enough for 1.2 million households to switch over (to Raw)" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"Miller went for his magic red slipper, but instead opened his bag to find bunny slippers" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"I don't know what they did for all those years in the Power Plant with Tatum because they sure didn't teach him how to wrestle. The No Limit Soldiers scewed up and Swoll hit Tatum with a heart punch leading to Hennig's win. Tatum forgot to sell the heart punch though" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"On a radio show this week, the host brought up that the Nitro main event lost to the Raw main event by a full four ratings points. Hogan's response was that it was Benoit, Malenko, Saturn and Douglas that brought the rating down and he had to make up for lost ground" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"For the record, the quarter with Benoit, Malenko, Saturn and Douglas drew a 3.3 quarter. The final quarter (Hogan vs. Sid) did a 2.9" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"There is some attempt to pull Brad Armstrong out of the No Limit Soldiers" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"Chris Jericho's final WCW match was 7/21 in Peoria, IL in a tag match teaming with Eddie against Kidman and Mysterio. Before the match, Jericho said that if he got pinned he'd leave WCW. Misterio than said everyone already knew it was his last night in WCW. (After the match) all four hugged in the ring. There were fans in near tears, as was Jericho. Kidman started a Jericho chant. Jericho said that he was overwhelmed by the response, but he still thinks that Peoria sucks" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"Miller was legitimately very upset at Bagwell for the promo were Bagwell acted like Miller, particularly feeling that the black face made it come across as racist" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999.

"The top selling auction item was a Ric Flair robe at $28,000, sold to the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 6, 1999.

"When Bischoff goes heel as company President, he's going to have a black woman bodybuilder and two midgets as part of his entourage" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 6, 1999

"From the WCW Saturday Night tapings, Barry Darsow worked wearing one of his old Russian outfits" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 6, 1999

"Christian York & Joey Matthews were told they didn't have to move to Atlanta or start going to the Power Plant yet, but they'll probably have to start going in six months. For now they are getting paid for doing nothing" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 6, 1999

"The top selling auction item was a Ric Flair robe at $28,000, sold to the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 6, 1999

"WCW bought those rights (to the Gorgeous George name) to give to Lanny Poffo years ago but they never wound up using him. Poffo is still under a $75,000 per year contract with the company" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 6, 1999

"In his infinite knowledge of how to play babyface, Dennis Rodman said in front of a crowd of 99.9% white guys from South Dakota that once you've had black, you will never go back. The crowd didn't like that" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 09, 1999.

"WCW World Wide debuted on Ch. 5 in England on 7/30. Hudson and Larry Zbyszko do the commentary with special commentary that is geared towards England. They tried to introduce fans to the product and listed who the champions were, saying Savage was the World Champion (don't ask why). The show then ended with Nash holding the belt and defending it against Sid (from Nitro) with no mention of Savage as champion. It was then announced Savage would defend against Hogan on the next week's episode" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 09, 1999.

"On every spot where Hudson & Heenan talked, there were these three guys mugging and making faces behind their backs. Anyway, if I was booking the show, next week I'd have three plants do the same thing for four or five segments, and on the final one, have Hudson hit one upside the head with a shovel and have them do a domino-like bump" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 09, 1999.

"In this weeks edition of the sins coming home to roost, Nitro drew only 3,818 paid to the 16,483-seat Miami Arena for the fourth Anniversary of Nitro. In honor of it being the fourth anniversary, WCW put on a show that when it was over, made you feel like you'd been watching this show alone for about two years. Suffice to say, it was one of the worst Nitros ever. The fans watching the show were like those Pom Pom girls in the Starburst commercial whose football players got beat up by the other school's mascot" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Vampiro put Karagias in something resembling a hypnotic trance and Evan stood there and got beat" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"At least when WWF does a nutty stalker in the crowd gimmick, they have an idea where they are going with it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"At this point in the show, the guy on the 1-800-CALL-ATT commercial was the most charismatic performer on the show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Gene interview Hogan, who said that he owns a black hummer and a white hummer, but that the hummer in the photo wasn't the real hummer" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Most of the show saw Tony Schiavone try to push a contest where the company is going to give away $1 million dollars" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"The piano man played. The fat lady was singing, although she's been doing that for a few weeks now" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Virgil came out wanting to join the (West Texas) Rednecks" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999.

"Booker T's contract earns him more per year than Ric Flair's" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999.

"Stevie Ray tried to get the crowd to chant 'nine times' over and over. They wouldn't" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999.

"Vampiro put Karagias in something resembling a hypnotic trance and Evan stood there and got beat" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999.

"Schiavone kept calling Blitzkrieg 'Psicosis'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999.

"Late in the week they decided to make this a War Games match. Unfortunately, they had already sold tickets for a normal, as opposed to a two ring set-up, and these kinds of changes can't be made last minute" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"They were going to do the angle with Evan Karagias, but he got his soul taken (by Vampiro)" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Misterio Jr. got poked in the eye accidentally backstage at Nitro" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Shane Douglas now is claiming that he'll put up his entire annual salary as a bet if he and Flair both get interview time to build it up, that their match would beat Raw in the quarters. For his sake, nobody better take him up on that bet" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999

"Shane Douglas asked the crowd if he was the real deal. There were more booes than cheers" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 13, 1999.

"Sting (said) he's been turned on four times by Nash over the last year and every time they went back to making them buddies again" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"If Bischoff ran things, Wally Pipp would probably still be playing first base for the Yankees"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Hennig was getting over with the 'Rap is cr*p' entrance music so what do they do? You guessed it. They gave him new entrance music that will never get over" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Hennig pinned Grunge. I've got no idea how because the cameras were somewhere else, and nobody cared enough to explain what we didn't see" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Savage did an interview. The previous Thursday on Thunder, Savage promised to reveal who drove the Hummer and introduce a new bodyguard on Nitro. He did neither, nor were either even brought up" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Gene Okerlund protested about the great Chad Brock coming out with his tone trying to get a face pope for the name. Fans booed Brock anyway" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Make sense out of this. (Bagwell vs. Norton) Miller came out with his red shoe. Onoo hit Bagwell with a briefcase but Bagwell kicked out of the pin. Miller jumped in the ring and Norton clotheslined him. The ref then ruled that Bagwell won via DQ, I guess because Norton clotheslined a guy not in the match who was already in the ring" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Chad Brock sang" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Sting beat Nash with the scorpion deathlock after ref Johnny Boone was beaten up and Scott Dickinson heard a submission. Nash's lips never moved and he didn't tap. Maybe he's a ventriloquist" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Savage did an interview. He tried to play face. He talked about running for President but mostly made no sense" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"At Thunder, during Sid's run-in, there was a big explosion in the building that was never referred to on air. It sounded like maybe somebody was shooting at Sid" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"There was a pyro explosion and both of the guys who handle pyro for WCW were taken to the hospital, one had second degree burns. There was no pyro for the rest of the show"- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Kidman took an accidental bump on David Penzer" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 16, 1999.

"Sid powerbombed La Parka on a bag of popcorn" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"Savage speared Rodman into a garbage bin. He then threw a guy out of a portable toilet and locked Rodman in and knocked it over. Rodman came out looking none too happy. Gorgeous George came out and gave Rodman a low blow. I guess that's what Rodman gets for raping her in that trailer" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"Sid is now 55-0, even though he loses nearly every house show match and has been on the losing side of tag team matches nearly every week on Nitro" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"Lash Leroux and Juventud Guerrera were having a good match until Sid beat both guys up and said that he'd going to do so all night long until Hogan gave him a title match. They already announced the title match at the start of the show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"Schiavone was talking about Mike Enos, who looks close to 270, press slamming (Sonny) Onoo as a great feat of strength" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999

"Miller beat Enos in 2:12. Miller asked how much time this took and Dave Penzer said 3:39. Even when there is no point in lying and where the truth is more impressive, WCW lies. Kind of like that night in San Antonio at the Alamodome when they had 20,000 or so fans and Schiavone talked about this great crowd of 12,000 fans" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999

"Lodi had a sign about he and Lenny that said 'We dive with Greg Louganis'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"They showed a promo of Berlyn. Schiavone talked about it being this mysterious guy, when it's already been revealed on Nitro that it is is Alex Wright" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"Brian Adams was clean shaven for his new role as a KISS Warrior" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"After seeing (swollen) Bigelow's face, I think I'd rather get in a street fight than have a nice worked match with Stevie Ray" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999.

"The fans started pelting the ring with garbage. WCW loves how that looks on television" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999

"There have been diversity meetings as it regards to race relations. Things were ok in the office until the No Limit Soldiers vs. Cowboys angle, because the office is basically made up of country music fans and African Americans, and the angle somehow polarized the office. One of Bischoff's secretaries wrote a very nasty racial joke on her computer and emailed it to her friend, but apparently pushed the wrong button and emailed it to everyone, both black and white, in the office" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 23, 1999

"DDP came out wearing an expensive shirt and doing gestures exactly like The Rock, talking about Flair liking to spank it, whack it and jack it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 1, 1999.

"The Nitro Girls are expected to be back on the 10/11 Nitro. They were pulled for internal disagreements" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999.

"Knobs beat Stevie Ray in a street fight in 3:53. Not as bad as it sounded on paper. Then again, decapitation sounds better than that match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999.

"Hall and Nash showed up and Gene interviewed them. (Hall) had a line about how Nash is working a retirement angle and said he'd be back wrestling when it was fun, and when Okerlund said it was fun, Hall told Okerlund that he hadn't been in the dressing room lately" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

"Kidman was remarkably alert in the ring after taking a 90 minute shower with Torrie Wilson" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

"Hogan and Flair did an interview together. When it got down to Flair cupping his ear and Hogan imitating Flair, it was like a bad comedy spoof" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

"The Nitro Girls are expected to be back on the 10/11 Nitro. They were pulled for internal disagreements" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

"The story about Disco being the Elephant Boy is just another worked story" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

"Knobs beat Stevie Ray in a street fight in 3:53. Not as bad as it sounded on paper. Then again, decapitation sounds better than that match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

"I wish that dork with the red hair would get over Betty and find a girl with a personality. That's regarding Mayhem video game commercial they played 4,000 times in three hours, sometimes twice in the same break, which tells you about how well the real ads are selling these days" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 1999

WCW FALL BRAWL FINAL POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up - 0
Thumbs Down - 67
- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 20, 1999

"Shane Douglas said 'Saginaw, Michigan, are you ready?'. They were in Winston-Salem" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 20, 1999.

"The Demon vs. Vampiro feud was scheduled to go like this. Demon was to be revealed as the Son of the Devil, I swear I'm not making this up, who had turned good because he turned his back on his father. Vampiro would be revealed to have been sent down, or up, however the geography goes, to garner revenge. On the New Years Eve PPV, Demon would toss Vampiro into a vat of holy water, and when he got out, he'd change to a new character" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 20, 1999

"CG Afi, the Lodi fan who runs in every week, got popped in the eye legit by security at Nitro. Doug Dillinger was clued into the angle, local security wasn't. One of them chased him and punched him in the eye" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 22, 1999

"Bret Hart filmed a hip hop video this past week" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 22, 1999

"Bagwell then came out, without his gimmick, wearing an 'I'm doing a job' face, wrestling La Parka in a grudge match from Thursday, visibly showing he wasn't allowed to do anything on offense, and making La Parka look like an idiot, then laying down for the pin, getting right up and saying something to the effect of 'Russo, did I do the job right?'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999.

"Goldberg speared a frail bald attorney, who got right back up and didn't sell it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999.

"They did a show long skit of them (Hall & Nash) trying to sneak into the building, including once with Nash acting like he was drunk and supposedly throwing up on Doug Dillinger" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999

"Hall and Nash wore Villanos masks and tried to speak Spanish" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999.

"It was apparent within five minutes that we can add color commentator to the list of things (wrestling, doing interviews and booking) that Kevin Nash can't handle. He started by saying that everyone said he was a bad booker but he was smart enough to book himself into a retirement angle so he doesn't have to take any bumps and still makes big money. He spent the rest of his show doing his 'I'm too cool for wrestling' gimmick, which would work if he was funny. Nash spent the rest of the show mocking Tenay's call of Duggan's finisher as the 'old glory' by calling Misterio's move an 'old glory huricanrana' and the like so many times that Tenay even told Nash he wore the joke out. Nash continued with the line the rest of the show" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999

"Steiner & Lex backing off from La Parka, which was booked as a practical joke, saying Luger was afraid of skeletons" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999.

"Nash noted how whenever there's a (video) package on somebody before the match, it's almost a sure bet that guy is going to win" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 25, 1999

"The (promotional) subtitle for the next WCW PPV, 'watch the horror unfold'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 27, 1999

"Madusa came out in a bikini. The implants looked ridiculous but this is a business of excess. She came out with Nitro cologne. It was the weirdest thing as Heenan was getting over just how horrible smelling the cologne is. It is a WCW product and they were pushing how bad it smelled. Madusa started screaming it was bullsh*t and threw the cologne on Heenan, who reacted like it smelled like cow manure. In fact, they actually used the word manure to describe the smell of the cologne. This was weird to say the least" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 1, 1999.

"Oklahoma then threw BBQ sauce in Madusa's eyes to set up Madusa vs. Oklahama in a feud over the cruiserweight title" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 10, 2000.

"Bagwell and Kanyon, who at this point had turned on eachother twice, where scheduled to face Flair and Crowbar. Bigelow attacked Kanyon, suplexing him on the entrance ramp and threw him off the stage through a table. This bump was far more dangerous than similar WWF bumps where they have all these pads set up covered in a blanket around the table when they go off the ramp, but the stunt was nill as the cameras missed the shot" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 10, 2000.

"It wasn't Bret Hart driving the monster truck nor was Sid in the car that was being run over, although both were the original plan. Hart was told what part of the car to drive over and where Sid would be in the car so as to not drive over him. Hart refused saying he wasn't an experienced stunt driver. There was no problem with his decision and he was apologized to for being asked" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 10, 2000.

"If you thought Starrcade was bad in English, it was worse in German. The German crew was in Washington DC live. The regular commentators were joined by comedian Tom Gerhardt, who was popular in Germany ten years ago because he used to go on stage dressed as a giant penis and pretend to ejaculate on the audience. He was doing heel commentary to get himself over, calling Disco Inferno gay, talking about Madusa having nice t*ts , and stood when Benoit made the open challenge to anyone and challenged him. This was all done to build a match where Gerhardt will wrestle Berlyn in Oberhausan, Germany on the WCW house show. German wrestler Ulf Hermann, upon hearing this news, issued a grandstand challenge." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 10, 2000.

"Kevin Nash missed the weekend house shows where he was scheduled to headline against Vicious claiming a concussion suffered allegedly when he was hit with the rubber crowbar by Arn Anderson" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 17, 2000.

"Throughout the show, they (the NWO) were torturing Bret Hart. Nash was torturing Hart and in the background you could hear the director wrapping up the scene. The final scene saw Hart coming out with a pipe while covered in makeup to make it appear he'd been beaten up on. It was the same makeup they used for Arn Anderson, totally exposing that angle. Hart challenged the NWO guys to come out. Nash & Jarrett came out with bats. Then it got really silly. Hart was in a stand-off with Nash and Jarrett forever because Funk & Anderson arrived so late. Apparently live it was obvious Hart & Nash were having a hard time not laughing because the timing was so screwed up. Funk came out with a flaming branding iron and Anderson with a bucket of water. Anderson threw the bucket of water on Hart, with the idea that the makeup would run. The makeup didn't run, but the announcers had to sell that it did." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 24, 2000.

"The Match (Kevin Nash vs. Sid) was in slow motion. Jarrett came in, but Sid got the guitar from him, clocked Nash with it and then laid on his back. The announcers were talking about how Sid was outsmarting everyone by pretending he was the one who got hit with the guitar. There were peices of the broken guitar surrounding Nash's body, including in his hair and a big peice on his chest, while there was no debris anywhere close to Sid" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 31, 2000.

"The only ratings question of the week was whether or not WCW Nitro would beat the Westminster Dog Show on the USA Network on 2/14. The answer was no" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 21, 2000.

"In Philadelphia, apparently the hydraulics didn't work and The Demon was stuck in his coffin for about three minutes before they could get him out" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 21, 2000.

"A Tv Series starring Duggan called 'Biker's Court' was attempting to be sold for syndication at the NATPE convention last week. It was a worked cross between Judge Judy and Jerry Springer, with bikers as the jurors, a silicon implanted baliff and Duggan carrying his 2X4 as the judge. A typical episode is a midget smoker who is suing the tobacco companies claiming smoking stunted his growth and asking for compensation for a multimillion dollar NBA career that he didn't have" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 21, 2000.

"There was zero heat for Vicious vs. Jarrett. Earlier in the show Nash announced it as non-title. Jarrett demanded WCW overrule Nash and make it a title match. WCW announced it was a U.S. Title match. That made perfect sense, since the world champion should be challenging for the US belt. Jarrett hit Sid with a guitar shot which busted his head open hardway. Vicious said he got a concussion from the guitar shot. After the show, Vicious confronted Mark Madden and yelled at him. Madden made a remark about the three-way and said that Vicious may be the "monkey in the middle", which of course is a kids game. Vicious was told by someone that Madden called him a monkey and he was very upset about it. Madden tried to explain what he actually said but Sid, I guess with his head busted upon and groggy from the possible concussion and jetlagged from Germany, wasn't interested in hearing." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 21, 2000.

"The crowd didn't care about this program and the stretcher aspect of the match was preposterous. Daffney did a hurricanrana and her blue wig flew off in the process. At one point they put David (Flair) on a stretcher and he was halfway to the back. He got off the stretcher, totally revived, and didn't sell it like he'd even been beaten. Finally they taped David to the stretcher and had to sell that David couldn't get off with this athletic tape that wasn't even holding. The bell rang for no reason. Crowbar got carried off in a stretcher with that ridiculous tape. The funny thing is that the stretchers had restrainers that could have locked the guys in that would have at least looked better than that silly athletic tape. Then they put Daffney in a wheelchair and taped her up. Her being taped was the silliest of the three in that the tape didn't hold but she still had to sell it." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 28, 2000.

"Big T defeated Booker T in a match for (the rights to) the letter 'T'. This was ungodly bad. Actually the former Ahmed Johnson in his now pregnant state actually 'carried' Booker T to maybe the worst match of his career. The lights went out, seemingly forever, teasing that Midnight was coming, with her music. Of course, she's not even in the company anymore." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 28, 2000.

"La Parka was reading the financial pages when Madusa propositioned him." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 28, 2000.

"World Championship Wrestling had what was on paper its most successful weekend in at least a year, drawing three consecutive sellouts, largely with very enthusiastic fans in the United Kingdom. The reaction to the shows by the time they were over was typical of the WCW Shoot Yourself in the Foot Tour 2000. The main events all three nights were a disappointment. On the first night, they used Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig on top. They had a good technical match that the crowd wasn't into, with lots of 'Goldberg' chants. After the match, Luger and Elizabeth did a run-in, leaving Bagwell to make the save and the show actually ended with Bagwell in the ring with his music playing, saying 'You didn't get Goldberg and you didn't get Sting, but you got Buff and he's the stuff.' Needless to say, the interview wasn't exactly well recieved by the audience. (The third show had) a hugley disappointing main event, headlined by local boxer "The Viking" Foster working as the outside the ring second ref for the Mamalukes tag title defense against the Harris Twins. The match had no heat and lots of missed spots with fans filing out as it was going on. Ron Harris actually grabbed the house mic and ripped on the fans for not caring about the match. Reports were the match was terrible. Foster, we're told, wasn't a big enough name to actually help sell tickets and most of the fans in attendance didn't even know who he was. The first night in Burmingham, Nash came out in a wheelchair...Nash was said to be embarassing, badly slurring his words. Vicious wasn't there, according to WCW sources it is because he's not allowed in the country. In London, Duggan got the crowd chanting 'USA'. in his match against UK wrestler David Finley" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 20, 2000.

"The Dog got loose from Knobbs and apparently he was drinking out of the toilet. I just saw him on his knees in the bathroom with Knobbs telling him to stop. It took several minutes before it was explained what he was actually doing. Dog wrestled Smiley. Smiley spanked the Dog before the match. After the match, Dog went after Scott Dikinson, with Mark Madden mentioning that Scott Dinkinson's full time job is a mailman (which is true). Dog tried to tree Smiley backstage after the match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 20, 2000.

"Funk attacked Rhodes after the match, knocking him out with a loaded chicken" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 20, 2000.

"When Mark Madden told Arn Anderson how well received his segment was, Anderson replied by saying 'That must mean I'm going to get fired'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 20, 2000.

"Luger and Elizabeth were apparently in a car accident before the show. Their rental car was said to have been hit by a bus. They did arrive and Luger was able to wrestle" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 20, 2000.

"Douglas pinned him (Funk) and grabbed the belt. Mike Awesome beat Wall in a tables match. Awesome and Douglas started beating on Wall but DDP came out of the back of the ambulance and threw Awesome in the back and the ambulance took off. Then they went to a cutaway with Russo holding a casket with a bunch of New Blood members as pall bearers, including Douglas without a hair out of place and Awesome, in his regular clothes." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 29, 2000.

"Madden was at this point told to get over about how WCW doesn't do schmazz finishes and cheap DQ's. Except for Wall vs. Awesome up to that point, there had been nothing but schmazz finishes" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 29, 2000.

"Jarrett introduced Russo as the guy who turned the WWF around and called him Vince McMahon's best kept secret. Russo came out to the Road Warriors music. He talked about getting screwed by the good ol' boys while a great percentage of both the live and TV audience had no clue what he was talking about. Bischoff came out to tease a confrontation, but they hugged. They announced that all of the titles were vacated. When Sid was teasing he was going to hit Bischoff, Bischoff made a comment about Sid not having scissors. Bischoff was so clearly stunned that the crowd didn't react to the scissors line that he must have thought that they didn't hear it the first time, so he said it again, also to no reaction." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 17, 2000.

"On Nitro during the opening meeting (with Russo), everyone was supposed to act scared and somber, but you could see everyone biting their tongue because Brian Knobs' hair was set on fire by the pyro coming out" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 17, 2000.

"You know things are bad when Schiavone starts swearing on the air" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 24, 2000.

"They (DDP and Mike Awesome) were having a good match when Mark Madden said in the new WCW they were going to have winners and losers and the refs aren't going to be calling DQ's. Literally seconds later, Billy Silverman called the DQ." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 17, 2000.

"Crowbar & Leroux & Moore beat Candido & Guerrera & Artist in 6:30. The Guerrera team kept having the match won, but a partner would break up the pin and cost his own team the match. This actually happened time after time. The announcers clearly weren't clued in, because nobody said a word nor were telling the story of the match. Sometimes when a partner made the save it was presented as if it was a member of the opposing team. Finally they came up with the explanation that the wrestlers are trying so hard to impress Russo and Bischoff that they are trying to make sure their team doesn't win. Crowbar pinned Candido after a gordbuster that was set up by Artist costing his team the match" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 24, 2000.

"Meng speared a life sized poster of Goldberg. Meng used the poster to block Knobbs spraying him with a fire extinguisher. Meng then threw Knobbs off a 30-foot balcony" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 24, 2000.

"Sting and Vampiro fought in a graveyard. Vampiro broke a tombstone over Sting's head and he fell into a grave. Offically, because Sting may have died, this match was ruled a no contest" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 08, 2000.

"The big finish was totally screwed up. The idea was that Jarrett and Page were to climb the scaffolding. Arquette would climb the scaffolding, hit Jarrett with the guitar, who would take the bump through the gimmicked part of the stage that they would fall through. When leaving the ring, by accident, Asya stepped on the set and fell through, so everyone could see that it was gimmicked. Arquette than ran out and apparently wasn't given directions as to what to avoid, and fell into the gimmicked part of the stage. So Jarrett and Page improvised up there with Page deciding to save the show and take the bump into what was already evident as the gimmicked hole in the stage. No idea at press time how this will be edited" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 08, 2000.

"When they made the stip where Flair got five minutes with Russo, Russo didn't sell it, and then said 'this is where I'm supposed to play chicken sh*t heel' to zero pop" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 08, 2000.

"Terry Funk won a handicap match for the hardcore title over Norman Smiley and Ralphus. Most of the match was backstage with Ralphus, dressed in a catchers outfit with a catchers mask, just standing there. The height of the silliness was them (Funk and Smiley) throwing cardboard boxes at each other and selling it. Finally, Funk brought Ralphus in front of the curtain and into the ring, and unmasked him and pulled his pants down. Ralphus basically stood there with his fanny showing...Ralphus by this time looked like he was going to have a heart attack" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 15, 2000.

"Hogan did the first huricanrana of his career" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 15, 2000.

"Russo and David were at Flair's home in Charlotte. (Russo) said that Reid was the favorite one and that David had to sleep in the garage and swim in a shark infested creek. Russo was jumping up and down on Flair's bed. " - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000.

"Madusa vs. Liz were supposed to have a cage match but Luger came out dressed as a cage repair man and saved Liz. Russo came out and hit Luger with a low blow, but he was wearing a cup so he no sold it and rubbed the cup in Russo's mouth. The security maced Luger. Palumbo attacked Luger with that 60's comic book twister deal. Awesome attacked Nash. Nash called him Eddie Money, who was a rock star probably when Nash was in college, and challenged him to an ambulance match. Scott Steiner went outside for a street fight with Tank and Rick. The Goldberg monster truck made the save. Nash nearly killed Awesome with the greatest power bomb in the sport. Just before Awesome faced sure paralysis, DDP made the save to help Nash do the move before he dropped the guy on his head. The (ambulance) match ended with Awesome never put in the ambulance." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000

"It has been made clear to everyone that Hogan is 'the man' and in all angles has to be treated as such...Hogan vs. Hogan (Horace vs. Hulk) started with Kidman yelling at Horace about (Torrie) Wilson, who he came out with. Horace beat up Kidman and went to the ring with Wilson. Horace went to kiss Wilson when Kidman came out again. Hulk then throws Kidman over the top rope through a table and pins Horace. Hulk then kissed Torrie Wilson. Of course she liked it and walked out on both Kidman and Horace." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000

"During the commerical, they soaked the ropes with gasoline. Sting came out, then Vampiro came out and called him Steve, and said they would have an inferno match on the PPV. Sting said that's nuts and he isn't going to do it. At this point the ropes were supposed to set on fire but they didn't. The fans started laughing and booing," - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000.

"Funk came out with chickens on both hands like they were boxing gloves" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000.

"They built to a spot where Vampiro acted like he was going to bite the head off Sting's crow but Sting made the save. After being beaten up, Vampiro started laughing. Vampiro was making reference to 'Steve Borden' not wanting to work. When Sting pounded on him, he called Vampiro 'Ian'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000.

"David (Flair) did an interview. It was weird because he was bragging about his long-legged blonde girlfriend and having a Corvette to show he hasn't done badly for himself (his real-life fiancé is Stacy Keibler), which was strange since Daffney was right there as a medium-legged brunette who is supposed to be his girlfriend, but not only that, earlier in this very same show he asked her to marry him." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000.

"Russo then came out to confront Nash, and basically tried to take 100% of the credit for creating the 'Diesel' character that made Nash a star. Blood fell from the ceiling, most of which fell several feet to the side of Nash and much of which fell on front row spectators." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 22, 2000.

"Tank Abbot has been asked by management to take singing lessons" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 11, 2000.

"Russo wanted to be dragged behind the (monster) truck through the desert by Goldberg but the higher ups nixed the angle. Russo was very upset about this" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 11, 2000.

"They did a segment claiming Russo had suffered a blood clot to the brain and needed emergency brain surgery" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 11, 2000.

"Some notes from 9/12 in Roanoke for the Thunder tapings. Hayabusa was there but was only going to be put on World Wide against The Frog." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 11, 2000.

"The Thrillers went back to the Power Plant. They all attacked Mike Graham. That was funny because Graham leg dives Sanders and put him in a figure four, and when there are six guys ready to jump you, the best thing to do is run, and the worst thing to do is to take one guy to the ground and let the other five stomp the hell out of you. They attacked Orndorff, who in every camera shot posed titled so his good arm, which he clearly had pumped up before taping, was right in front of the camera" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: September 18, 2000.

"Nobody has any idea why they brought a live tiger from the zoo to accompany Steiner to the ring on Nitro. Backstage, when he was trying to get a photo with the tiger, the tiger nearly took a chuck out of Rey Mysterio's eye" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 10, 2000.

"In a meet and greet in Sydney, Australia, Chae (Nitro girl) was asked if she was dating Kevin Nash. She said that she was. Kevin Nash a few weeks back on TV said he was going out after the show to 'eat a little Korean' so I guess that publicly puts one and one together" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 16, 2000.

"A fan hit Goldberg with a cardboard Star of David" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 16, 2000.

"In a segment said to be hilarious live, (Elix) Skipper was talking trash and challenging Goldberg. Goldberg came out behind Skipper. Skipper keeps turning and Goldberg keeps adjusting his position so Skipper can't see him. All of this is on the big screen, which Skipper is looking right at, and can see Goldberg behind him, but because they didn't consider this when making the angle, he had to pretend" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 23, 2000.

"CNN ran a special on Goldberg on 10/22. They showed Vince Russo and the booking team talking about a Nitro where Bill Goldberg would get revenge on Scott Steiner. Russo had an idea that Steiner would be in the dressing room bleaching his mustache and Goldberg would pour Clorox down Steiner's throat. Ed Ferrara noted that you don't bleach a mustache with Clorox. He then said they could use bleach instead." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 30, 2000.

"This (Awesome vs. Vampiro) was the most blown spots in a PPV match dating back to the legendarily bad Sandman vs. Sabu match on the ECW show in Pittsburgh a few years back. The match fell apart in the crowd. They were brawling, and Vampiro grabbed a crutch from someone at ringside. The guy who they took the crutch from then attacked Awesome and tried to head fanny him. Vampiro and Awesome threw punches at him and both were so freaked out that the match completely fell apart." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 06, 2000.

"Buff Bagwell did an interview before the PPV with Alex Marvez. Regarding his attempt over the summer to go to the WWF, he said that on the New Blood Rising PPV, Kanyon was supposed to beat him and take Judy Bagwell as his valet. He said it was Russo's idea, (and) that nobody but Russo liked the idea. He said he asked Kanyon 'Are you sure you want my mother as your f***in valet?'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 06, 2000

"Ray wasn't thrilled with Madden calling Jindrak & O'Haire the 'White Harlem Heat'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 06, 2000.

"Luger ripped on Mark Madden to start the show. Seems that Luger was mad at Madden for saying his bodyfat percentage has gone up. He made fun of Madden's physique in an unscripted segment Madden didn't know anything about. Luger then brought out Ross Foreman and yelled at him for not having any photos of him in WCW Magazine" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: November 13, 2000.

"On the 12/4 Nitro (where wrestlers were told to stop mentioning Scott Hall), when the crowd was chanting 'We Want Hall' during the DDP & Nash vs. 3 Count match, on the closed captioning, it read, 'We Want Hall'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 18, 2000.

"DDP asked Sanders to deliver the line in a promo saying DDP may be 45, but he looks 35 and wrestles like he's 25. The line wasn't delivered, because it makes no sense for a heel to say that. However, it has been repeated backstage as a source of comedy." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 25, 2000

"Dustin Runnels was at Starrcade, being called by management to return. Runnels is reportedly being paid $750,000 per year but the company isn't using him. When he got there, the company told him they had no plans for him, and he went back home." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: December 25, 2000.

"The 12/18 Nitro was supposed to practically be built around Rick Steiner as the surprise guy, but he wasn't there because they forgot to tell him" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 01, 2001.

"Kaz Hayashi & Yun Yang beat Jamie Knoble & Evan Karagias in 9:21 in the show stealer. You know it had to be WCW with the graphic reading Jamie Karagias and Evan Knoble as they came to the ring" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 22, 2001.

"Meng pinned Bigelow in a bad match. Highlight was said to be Bigelow throwing Meng's boot at the announcers and Tenay catching it" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 22, 2001.

"Jimmy Hart was hospitalized with a kidney stone, which was dislodged when a female DJ gave him a low blow at the Minneanapolis Thunder" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 22, 2001.

"Beginning this week, Nitro is going head-to-head with Thunder in Australia" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 22, 2001.

"Scott Steiner was arrested from an incident at the TV tapings the night before which ended up being edited off television. They were doing a stretcher job deal and Steiner started kicking one of the EMT's, apparently thinking they weren't real EMT's. As it turned out, they used real EMT's, and one of them decided to press (police) charges" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 29, 2001.

"Chavo Jr. & Animal beat Misterio Jr. & Kidman. Schiavone was waiting all day for the line talking about Misterio Jr. wrestling in Mexico, and then said, Mexico is bordered to the south by Guatemala, not Nicaragua, as everybody knows. For the other three million viewers who don't have any idea why he said this, it's because 11 years ago, there was this guy who did a wrestling newsletter named Steve Beverly who had the ear of a guy at TBS named Jeff Carr. Carr made the call that WCW Saturday Night should only have one host, and it was Ross. Schiavone was so mad he went to the WWF for several years. He's hated Beverly ever since. Anyway, last week on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire', a contestant was asked what country bordered Mexico to the south and called Beverly for a lifeline and Beverly said Nicaragua and his friend hesitated, but went with Beverly's pick, and was wrong." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 05, 2001.

"Schiavone in his silly statement of the week after Misterio Jr. did some flying move and then spun around, compared him with Bugsy McGraw, who for those who weren't around in that era, was just about the worst wrestler in captivity. It would be the equivalent of Jim Ross comparing Kurt Angle to Tiger Chung Lee" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 12, 2001.

"In a TV commercial in the Nashville market for the 2/18 PPV, the voiceover really says 'expect a night of run-ins'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 12, 2001.

"...some of the strangest camera work, including a shot of a door which seemed to have no real purpose" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 05, 2001.

"Kanyon then started attacking the mop. Fans chanted for Cat to save the mop from a bad beating, and Cat in fact did so" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 05, 2001.

"They showed a limo pulling up to the arena and the announcers referenced a limo pulling into the arena. Then they cut to a shot inside the limo of Stasiak and Kanyon and in the conversation they talked about arriving at the hospital" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 12, 2001.

"The main event on the show, believe it or not, was Flair kissing a donkey" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 26, 2001.

"Ace (had) an exchange with Luger. Luger compared himself to a Ferrari and said that if you keep hitting a Ferrari with a sledge hammer, pretty soon it's worthless. Ace's reaction was something to the effect of having no idea what it meant" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: March 26, 2001.

"When names were read off of employees given their various termination notices, Tony Schiavone, when his name was read off by people in Human Resources in WCW, they pronounced it 'Tony Skee-a-vone'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 09, 2001.
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

This was posted on another forum. Observer article from late 2001 on the decline of pro wrestling popularity.

Spoiler for BIG DAVE LAYING IT DOWN:
The World Wrestling Federation needs to, now, commission a study of why they and wrestling in general are losing the over-30 audience so rapidly. This goes against the company thought process, because despite what may be said publicly, the company's target age group and strongest demo per capita is Males 12-24. However, the age group that is losing interest in wrestling the fastest is those over the age of 30, who make up the vast majority television viewership for most programs (average viewership age of most network hit shows is early 40s), and are traditionally the most loyal fans.

When wrestling peaked in late 1998 and early 1999, there were just under six million viewers over the age of 30 watching every Monday night. At that point, WWF was winning the ratings, but within that age group, WCW had a slight lead and it was still a dogfight for that group as late as 2000. WCW always skewed older (the average WCW viewer for Nitro and Thunder ranged between 35 and 39, older for the more traditional WCW Saturday night until it was left for dead) than WWF (average viewer was usually about 25). Perhaps its version of pro wrestling (at least pre-Nash and Russo) was closer to what the older audience was comfortable with and the stars were people they were more familiar with. Currently, that number on Monday's is closer to two million. To lose that many viewers in an age group that would be the most loyal so quickly is the single biggest problem facing pro wrestling today, particularly long-term. And it is one that has largely been ignored because of who the WWF sees its target audience as. It is also a large part of why ratings have declined as well as overall wrestling interest for all products that would appeal to long-time fans.

About the time WCW went into a similar decline, it commissioned a study, where it studied the audience that was no longer watching the product, as well as those who still watched, and what they liked and didnt like about the product. At that point, and this was done two years ago, fans wanted more emphasis on the wrestling, less on the silly angles, interviews and skits. The results were 180 degrees different to what the people in charge (Russo at the time) thought wrestling should be. As people remember, the people in charge got the study, rejected it, and the guy who did the study quit, and the company went in its blind and merry way out of business. The most powerful people when it comes to constructing a television wrestling show these days are the writers. Writers write shows to show the value of the writers over the wrestlers. Often they make themselves central characters even though they aren’t wrestlers, and, with the occasional exception (Vince McMahon), in 80% or more of the cases, its the kiss of death. This business is in its worst shape in modern memory because of people in charge of WCW having no clue as to what their audience wanted. WWF, in appealing to a younger audience, there is a far greater divergence in what they want, and fixing problems is actually far more difficult than it would have been for WCW at the same stage of the decline. WWF have polarized audiences that want exactly what many others don’t want, unlike the older WCW audience that largely had similar opinions of what they wanted the product to be, and weren’t getting.
WWF is huge in studying fan response. Vince McMahon makes changes literally every week based on crowd reactions at TV tapings. Unfortunately, all the time spent analysing their current audience and doing the monstrous job of producing so much television every week made them skip out on studying the last few years of WCW and all the lessons learned, because they are repeating so many of the same mistakes. It was sad that as WCW’s numbers declined, they started throwing blame everywhere but where it belonged, as a way to not have to address the real problems, which never did get addressed. Also sad to see WWF starting to do the same thing. Blaming outside forces for people not buying tickets. Blaming critics for the fact their product is starting to get negative criticism despite declining ratings showing that something is wrong.

This is what WWF needs to do. Find out the audience leaving wrestling the fastest, probably ages 30-45, mostly male. Contact cable companies for names of people that purchased wrestling PPVs in 1998 in all three companies. I know the data exists, because our local cable company sent out mailers and had phone calls made to former UFC fans, the last local broadcast being four years ago, to remind them of the last show. Start making calls and, in particular, do a study, not of people who purchased the last PPV, in fact, ignore them. But have a lot of questions to ask among those who stopped buying PPV, what is missing and why and what would interest you to come back. If they give an answer such as the return of 1980s wrestling or 80s stars, ignore them. Some people have left the product for reasons that cant be avoided and you aren’t going to get them back. But the majority of long-time fans, I'd suggest, want to be fans today, still have a very casual interest and would be fans if there were storylines and characters that they could identify with without feeling screwed and stupid, ironically by the company presenting them, for caring. Do the same for people on the expired list of WWF and WCW Magazine subscriptions. Go to the gyms, or sporting events, and hire people to ask around about wrestling and see what the masses are saying, and aren't The current fan base isn’t the answer to the problems. They are still watching. The Internet isn’t the answer, because on the internet, you are getting a different type of fan who is going to give different answers. Often the people who aren’t watching will give you the same answers as the people who are. During the decline of WCW, the same things people were saying on our internet show for a totally specialized audience or in letters here were the same things I heard from my friends who had a very casual interest, or from people at the gym who were constantly telling me how Vince Russo was killing the product, and they meant the television character and the nature of the writing. They had no inside info and didn’t care about the backstage political atmosphere. But they knew what they didn’t like and they knew why they stopped watching.

One of the biggest problems many companies have had on the way down the drain is listening to the wrong audience, which is the audience that has remained after you've run the casual fans off. I can specifically remember going to a WCW event at the Nassau Coliseum on February 14, 2000, when the company was taking on water badly. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair got far bigger reactions than everyone else on the show. I realized right there, that being in the building, was the worst thing for the people making decisions. The veterans were experts at working the crowd. The paid attendance for that show (headlined by an advertised Hogan vs. Flair match) was terrible, but if you were there, you would come to the conclusion they were the only guys the fans cared about And you'd be right, but since they weren’t pulling fans in, they couldn’t be built around either. But for years, Bischoff was in those arenas (it was funny, but at the end, before his failed attempt to buy the company, he started staying away from the arenas on purpose to watch on TV and see how the masses saw things) and saw how the crowd reacted to Hogan and Sting, not realizing he was going with a pat hand far too long and planting the seeds for what happened. Generally speaking, the guys on top, because they have the most TV time and are portrayed on top, are going to get the best pops among those that pay, kind of inherently, but if nobody is paying, those pops mean zilch. This creates a redundancy, because then they continue to be featured. However, while they may get the best pops, they are only human and will get stale. New acts have to be put on top to create new match-ups to get people to continually spend money for tickets to see something different Deciding next month's card by listening to this month's audience response means the audience, and not the promoter, is the manipulator The audience doesn’t understand its responsibility to keep the main events fresh, but the promoter doesn’t know exactly where he's going, which kills the long-term storylines which are the foundation of turning around business.

The older audience can make a bigger difference in overall ratings if they were given a product they like. But catering your product to regaining them has its risks. They may be gone for good, sans the occasional tuning in for nostalgia purposes, and nostalgia only works very short-term in entertainment and in wrestling. You don't want to alienate a younger audience that wants something different. But a good product should be able to attract both, witness the growth of both Nitro and Raw at about the same time with divergent products. In television, when an audience loses interest in a TV show because of whatever reason, bad writing, stale characters, over a season, it is next to impossible to get them hack even with new writers and an improved product. They've moved on. Maybe they'll come back for a wedding special or a farewell show. Everyone's idea of what they want out of wrestling is different and you can never please everyone. In 1995-96. when the Monday night phenomenon started, teenagers increased but much of the new audience was 35+, not so much drawn by YVWF Raw fans switching to WCW, but WCW creating a new audience of older fans interested in the stars they grew up with mixed in with new stars in a new format that looked state-of-the-art Ultimately, it was the inability (with the notable exception of Bill Goldberg and maybe Paul Wight, both of whom were squandered anyway, and DDP to a far lesser extent) to use the old names create new stars, and the old names holding onto their position as they got stale, that killed it.

The lessons of 1996 tells us fans from every age group can be brought back if the product re-invents itself, and perhaps there is real competition and more of an unpredictable feel to the show leading to a cant miss feeling. But the contract situation in wrestling is different. There is no movement from territory-to-territory or super North American workers making a living in Japan and Mexico to revolutionize the in-ring product to allow constantly bringing in new faces to rise to the top. You cant recreate Nitro, or for that matter, 1997 Raw. They tried to recreate 1997 Raw with Angle as Austin, and it failed. Even the lessons of July tell us the right angle and right comeback, the lost audience will test the waters. But they wont stay more than a few weeks if they don’t like what they get The lesson of 10/8 says the opposite, that a lot of damage has been done over the last two months that isn’t so easy to turn around even by promising the greatest show of all-time and pushing a match as PPV quality for free.

The decline among teenagers can be explained because that audience is into the latest fad. Wrestling isn’t nearly as hot in high schools as a few years ago, and some of that decline was inevitable. The Male 12-
29 audience is also more important for overall business, as that audience is far more likely to attend house shows and buy merchandise. The teenage audience is tough to reach for everyone, which is why Vince McMahon was considered a promotional genius by so many when he got them. The over-30 audience is totally different, especially when it comes to sports. While most sports have had ratings declines, a lot of the decline is because they are losing so much ground with younger viewers, as well as the inevitable decline ratings will have when there are so many different stations to choose from as compared with even a few years ago. When it comes to the major sports, even with rising ticket prices, attendance has not shown a significant decline. With pro wrestling, live attendance has never been lower in modem history, largely because there is only one major league product and the amount of people willing to support a perceived minor league product is very small. But non-wrestling changes can not even start to address a decline of around 65 percent in what should be the steadiest and most loyal audience demographic, since the older people are, the more their habits are long-term patterned based.

Wrestling being presented so much as entertainment, with no realism (it was really telling a few weeks ago when Kurt Angle was wheeled out on a stretcher and everyone laughed, or when fans visible on TV were leaving in droves during the Smackdown main event with Rock involved), its fake sports trappings such as emphasis on results and title changes being dropped, a lot of what may have attracted and kept that audience through the years is no longer an important part of the current product To say you had to sacrifice some of the older audience to capture the newer audience is logical, and also true (something similar happened when Vince McMahon changed wrestling in 1984 and the result was a stronger audience base of new fans, and while many older fans complained about wrestling changing, they stuck around for most of that decade and eventually either got into the new product or the competing major league companies doing a different style). Wrestling has to constantly evolve or it becomes stagnant. It's an unfortunate fact of life for people who enjoy and are comfortable with a certain version of a wrestling product, because the reality is a pat hand in wrestling is quickly a losing hand. But change that doesn’t work is even worse than not changing, because if you alienate the existing audience without creating an equal or larger new audience, the result is. well. WCW A lot of the older audience left during the period WCW imploded its halt A lot more left when WCW disappeared. WWF picked up some of the disenfranchised WCW audience during its last few years of decline, hut now has lost more that it picked up over the past year, and in particular, since WCW folded and the Invasion was botched.

It needs to be noted that this audience did not turn off the current style or product mix. Most were still watching one year ago. The lengthy interviews and shorter matches were the product that existed at its peak, and were a larger audience than existed during romantic glory days of Jim Crockett in the mid-80’s. which was already dying, not so much as a product form, but because of stale talent and too many turns and bad finishes, as early as 1987 and was dead the next year except for the TBS life support which kept it alive until it was finally profitable in 1996 for a three-year strong run. The audience turned oft" what it perceived was a bad product, more so in WCW, but now with WWF.

This is where the current decline differs from previous down periods. When wrestling constricted in the early 90s, the loyal fans stuck with the product. A lot of Johnny-come-latelys left, and were gone until 1996, when the business got hot again. This decline has been more among loyal fans, many of whom were fans for 15 years or longer. They are the hardest audience to run off, because it's a patterned and in many cases important part of their life. As we saw with WCW, and now with WWF as late as two months ago, many will come back at the slightest sign of hope things are turning around. But after a while, they wont be fooled and teased any longer. WCW was able to hype occasional big events and get noticeably larger audiences based on the promise things would turn around. If you check back, after a few weeks, that audience decided the direction wasn’t to their liking, and the decline got worse. WWF had a similar situation with the WCW invasion, then the ECW invasion and the Rock return, only to lose that audience through weak storylines and the biggest problem of all.

Probably the single biggest cause of the decline and deaths of wrestling companies is the failure to constantly make new stars. WCW lost its audience when the old stars faded, and there was no more hope they could create new ones. When they had established their mid-card as people who weren't going to be elevated, fans gave up their emotional attachment to watching the young guys rise. The company was dead, even though it didn’t know it at the time. Today's ratings patterns differ from a year ago in one major way. A year ago, the mid-card was over. The Edge, Christian, Hardy Boys, Benoit, Jericho, Guerrero core were hot midcarders on their way up. Fans were teased by their holding their own with the big names, frustrated by their false starts, and eventually, stopped caring once they figured out there was a glass ceiling. A second problem, again based on those same names, is there needs to be a constant influx of new people throughout the card. WWF is paying the price today for having such a great product and giving the fans too much. Fans saw these guys when they were willing to take risks to get over. Now they are, "better workers," and "smarter workers," but they aren't fresh talent. Fresh talent cant get in because they don’t have the talent of the guys who are in. But by not getting in, the product in inherently stale. We've seen that in the 90s in Japan, where the product got so ridiculously good, that few could compete at the top level and fan expectation of a main event grew to where few guys could do it. Those guys did it, but eventually, their matches had been done and there was nothing new. No dream matches left. No mega-business left.

After having written all this, I threw up, as a question, on the internet, that if you were past 30, had been a fan forever, and your interest was declining or not there anymore when it came to the current WWF product, let me know why. The response was ridiculous. I'll throw up questions all the time and get a few dozen responses. This was getting a dozen or more responses every half hour. Literally, enough material to write at least one full book on the subject. This question hit a nerve like no question I've ever asked. I will say right now that these results may say something, but this is by no means a sub for what I'm suggesting WWF needs to do. The specialized fans may be more into aspects like match quality. Bottom line is that a good match is better than a bad match, but the most important aspect to the masses are constant creation of new superstars and thus new main event matches, gripping storylines (as opposed to lots of bad storylines that blend in together so that nobody cares about them) and wrestlers who combine both a solid style in the ring with a lot of fan interaction, the decline in the latter, like the sing along with Rock interviews and the "suck it" and the "five second pose" parts of the show that have disappeared have coincided with a loss in at least the younger audience Any response I got is based on a very narrow audience—people who came to a specialized web site on a Wednesday, and should be taken accordingly, just as WWF and WCW both made huge mistakes in recent years in thinking its majority audience goes to web sites when it is a tiny percentage, which shows why "inside references" on interviews usually get Hat responses from arena crowds
The tact that so many aren’t watching the product itself, but are still interested enough in the news to click on, on a day without a substantive news story, was shocking. Even with this newsletter, over the last few months I've been floored with letters saying how they are re-subscribing, but don’t watch wrestling anymore. I've been doing this for 20 years, and never got letters like that Now I get them on almost a daily basis. There is something really wrong when a monopoly promotion is losing interest among people who wrestling is a major part of their life and has been for years. Some of this is inevitable, because change is going to leave people behind that want things as they were but cant be anymore. Time does move on. There are probably a lot of similarities in these results to what the problems are. but the real problem is not in running off Observer readers or web site junkies, but in running off the millions—and millions of no longer Rock fans whose only connection to the business is watching television and buying an important PPV or paying to see the stars coming to their city.
After going through several hundred letters, here are the items mentioned most often by people who categorized themselves as disenfranchised long-term fans over the age of 30. Should mention that the top five on the list all had significant responses (mentioned prominently in 60-80 letters), while starting with No. 6, there was a significant difference:

1: Botched Invasion angle: It's a current subject, and it does coincide with a recent decline in ratings. The complaints were that the WCW and ECW forces were portrayed as jobbers, the McMahon’s never should were looking forward to like no other in recent years, because of all the possibilities. Everyone figured this could be the biggest money feud in wrestling history. The first PPV was a huge success. And then it died. People were left flat by its execution, and the signs were in neon that ego got in the way of huge business. As far as an angle with unbelievable potential that seems to have gone unrealised, this was huge, and even would agree it's No. 1 as to why recent audiences have lost interest, but cant buy it's turned more people off than many things WCW did from 1998 on.

2: Shane and Stephanie: It's funny, because ratings patterns seem to say the opposite, but people seem to really resent the amount of television time these two have. They resent Stephanie's interview time and that the top stars sell for Shane like he's a main event wrestler. Their ownership of WCW and ECW was a booking disaster, that hasn’t been rectified, which shows yet another problem even more serious. But I still think this is more a problem for the internet audience. To the casual audience, the problem is there are a handful of stars who get the bulk of the TV focus and the serious interview time, Shane and Stephanie being two of them, and everyone else has been portrayed as not being on that level nor will they get to that level which is the key point, and people lake them as unimportant, and people aren’t devoting as much time to watching what they perceive as unimportant parts of the show.

3: No Flair, Goldberg, Sting, Hall, Nash, Hogan: Those were the names mentioned most often with the pattern that wrestling isn’t interesting because their favorite or longstanding wrestlers aren’t on the scene. Virtually nobody mentioned Savage, Piper or anyone else. Of those, by far, Flair's name was mentioned the most followed by Goldberg and then Sting, although the feeling in letters, as it should be, is that Goldberg was the most valuable to the WWF of the group, but for older fans, there is more of an emotional tie to Flair. I think there would be some casual interest return if these names were on television, but only if they were portrayed strongly, and this is a hell of an argument to bring Hall, Nash and Flair in with a few other faces next year if possible, even with the potential downsides Hall & Nash could bring. I think it would be beneficial to not call them Razor Ramon and Diesel.

4: Disenfranchised WCW fan: This was a group that seemed to either start out as a fan of WCW, in most cases dating back to the Jim Crockett days on the Superstation in the 80s, and some starting out with Ole Anderson's Georgia Championship Wrestling at 6:05 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, or start out in the 70s and 80s as a fan of another promotion, often WWF, and migrate to the WCW TV show on the Superstation because of the superior workrate and drama and less frills version of wrestling When the show was cancelled in March, that was it for their interest in wrestling. This group was pretty strong that they never liked Vince McMahon’s version of wrestling, or at least hadn’t since the 80s, and their interest in wrestling died when McMahon appeared on the final Nitro. If McMahon had been able to get WCW, with most of the same names, influx a few of his names and outside names, promote it smarter, kept a different style, he probably could have maintained most of the 2.5 million Nitro exclusive viewers that were there at the end. Their TV soap opera was cancelled and it won’t be revived. Buffy changed networks and became even more popular. The failure of WCW wasn’t a failure of the style as much as a failure of the leadership. Those fans aren't coming back unless something spectacular happens to bring them back. Many people who fit into this category were fans of WCW specifically because it was the Southern brand, or because it wasn’t the Vince McMahon brand, and many of those people indicated they aren’t coming back. No matter what the poll says, the audience departure suits say this is reason No. 1. There is one thing also to consider on this. In
1984, Vince McMahon bought Georgia Championship Wrestling and for one year had the traditional time slot on TBS. When he and Ted Turner had their falling out, McMahon sold the time slot to Jim Crockett in the spring of 1985. The companies had entirely different styles and none of the same stars, but once getting the slot, immediately did big ratings (bigger than McMahon’s) and their promotion had its hottest year in its history, as the new time slot created a whole slew of new national stars like Rock & Roll Express, Magnum T.A., Tully Blanchard, Am Anderson, Nikita Koloff, Midnight Express and later Sting while using previously established stars on the station like Ric Hair, Dusty Rhodes and Ole Anderson as the backbone.
Of course they were an established hot promotion with a style fans watching wrestling on that station were used to and built around Rhodes, who was the biggest draw on the station before McMahon got the slot. It's really too bad that politically and contractually McMahon wasn’t able to keep WCW on the air on TNT because of his Viacom exclusive (five years from now, that Viacom deal is going to be an interesting thing to look back on in many ways) and that Viacom wouldn’t give him a prime time slot quickly for his new acquisition. It may have failed anyway, but I'd like everyone's chances a whole lot better. Like we've written before, when the overview of this industry is written in a few years, the major historical events are not the good and bad bookers and good or bad champions, but decisions made by television executives that change the course of history irrevocably.


5: 20 minute interviews: This was cited as the main tumoff of Raw and Smackdown. There was a lot of consistency in response that people didn’t mind three to five minute promos from top people, and most fans love interviews, but the lengthy promos at the start of the show were mentioned by too many people as the specific reason they no longer watch the show.

6: Legs cut from under midcarders: Somewhere along the way, they gave up hope that midcarders were ever going to advance. They've been teased with false starts too many times and no longer watch. This hurt WCW and led to its decline, and the same thing is happening in WWF. This one is big.

7: No suspension of disbelief: Or product mix. This is a group that wanted their wrestling product to be believable and characters consistent, and felt that was no longer the case. Characters doing things inconsistent with their character. Steve Austin's name frequently thrown in, often mentioned his alignment with Vince McMahon—people came to WWF based on the strength of that program and there was no logical storyline explanation for their uniting, basically the WWF was giving its fans that supported Austin the finger. This, along with a less than serious product and less dramatic product were all mentioned. I think there is something to this, but in the current environment, it's going to be hard to recreate it New Japan is the company trying with its usage of shootfighters, and I think most would say it isn’t working.

8: Can’t get emotionally involved in characters: This seems to be a mix between points six and seven. Basically people aren’t fans of specific wrestlers because they cant get into the logic of how they are written, or have been burned too many times wanting and being teased they are climbing the ladder, only to get nowhere. Once again, illogical turns (Austin once again) and storylines that aren’t consistent were mentioned. This one I think is very valid, and points to writers who haven’t watched the shows long enough as casual fans, although names like Heyman, Hayes and Prichard have been around the business their entire lives so that shouldn’t be the situation.

9: Lack of competition: I thought this would finish much higher. Some of this would figure into the folding of WCW and ECW and it was mentioned often. Wrestling is less interesting because there is only one major league group on television in the U.S. Once again points to almost a necessity of making a second company and making it a strong rebellious company with shots taken back-and-forth. but it's also something seemingly simple that has been such a disappointment already

10: Vince Russo: The period he was writing for WCW led to people stopping being wrestling fans. This was again a group of long-term WCW fans who weren't going to be WWF fans anyway. The Russo era ended their fandom of WCW even before the company closed its doors. He destroyed the product base of WCW. which led to a lot of audience turned off during the Nash era to give up hope completely. In hindsight, this period can't be underestimated.

11: Lack of emphasis on titles: Pretty much self explanatory. Also, too many titles on WWF broadcasts so titles, which used to be the holy grail when it came to their quest was the key in building business, have no meaning and thus most programs have no meaning. I see this as similar to reason No. 8, again because some of the writers didn't grow up as or around a lot of wrestling fans or studied the business long-term to see that the biggest gates usually came from long storylines based on chasing titles. It's a chicken and egg thing now, as fans don’t care about any title but the WWF belt, and care less about that than they have in the past, so putting more emphasis is scary if fans don’t buy it.

12: Too much T & A: A surprising answer finishing this high. A lot of women responded that this, and the overall portrayal of women on WWF broadcasts, with the reason they gave up watching Raw and Smackdown, but there were men who didn’t like it either and stopped watching. In most cases, the explanation from men who stopped watching and listed this as the reason isn’t that they hated it in and of itself, but that they felt they weren't good parents to have the show on because they had children in the house, which led to them not watching for parental responsibility, and thus losing interest in the product overall. Also listed (and not counted but perhaps should have been) was too many women and too many matches involving women who cant wrestle. While this does turn some people off and others on, the T&A increase led to an increase in popularity across the board early. Like everything in wrestling, when a little bit of something works, it's shoved down your throat until it doesn’t At this point it's considered part of the product and I think they'd lose more of an audience totally eliminating it, but overdoing it is also a negative. One relatively short segment on Raw a week is probably enough.

13: Kurt Angle/HHH/Stephanie storyline ending: More than any other angle, by far, this was named. Generally people liked the angle, some loved it, but the conclusion was in many people's minds, the beginning of the end. There was only one possible conclusion for long-term business, which was Stephanie ending up with Angle and HHH being the jilted babyface going for revenge. It's a storyline that almost everyone could relate to, which is why the build-up was such a huge success and got Angle over as a major heel. Instead, Stephanie sided with HHH, who beat Angle in their climactic match, and the feud ended flat just before it should have just started to draw money. This was the first example of where the egos of the people involved killed the most interesting angle in the company, not to mention that if Angle wasn’t such a great performer, he'd have ended up just like the Hardy’s positioning wise after his run with HHH. The company has yet to run another long-term angle anywhere close to as good as this, and this one was squandered before the payoff, and again, a lot of people trace the ending of their emotional bond with WWF angles to this.

14: Bad WWF television writing: Pretty much self explanatory.

15: WCW misusing Ric Flair: This came from long-time WCW fans who didn’t last until the end. The turnoff was the portrayal of Ric Flair, both as a heel when people didn’t want to boo him, but more as never getting his revenge against the top guys when he was the biggest ratings draw and most popular talent to the masses in the company. Am Anderson's name was also mentioned a lot, as were the frequent Horsemen revivals and quick destructions. This was the beginning of the end of the NWO era when NWO vs. Horseman, a feud that should have been strong, was botched because the powers at the time wouldn’t allow the Horsemen to be competitive. Since much of the adult audience was with WCW even in late 1999 and early 2000, and Flair was the company's biggest ratings draw until he was abused and turned heel to the point nobody cared (kiss of death probably the spring of 2000 turn) and ratings dropped, this is probably pretty significant. I think more than a lot of things listed above it

16: Stale WWF product: Same guys on top Same style of show, short matches, lengthy interview. No new matches. Rehashed angles. Many things went into this complaint

17: No character consistency: This was a complaint both from the dying days of WCW as well as WWF. It wasn't so much the frequent turns, although that complaint was there, hut the lack of storyline to explain changes. Steve Austin's name and heel turn, particularly joining with Vince McMahon and HHH was frequently mentioned. Fans surrogately lived through Austin in hating HHH and Vince, and suddenly Austin didn’t care. It was like they had invested all this emotion in a fake storyline and felt jilted. Make no mistake about it, the Austin heel role, and teased face turn, coincided with all the downs and ups of ratings since Mania.

18: Life got busier: This was a point that wrestling itself and its product had no control over. People who simply said as they got older, usually got a family and children and the amount of time left over for watching Wrestling wasn’t there. Different priorities caused interest to wane. The fact this was not in the top ten means that while it is a factor, wrestling factors were far more important. But there is always an audience of wrestling fans whose lives change when they get married and have children. Some do drop out of fandom, but when wrestling is hot, the fan base in all age groups increase. This is a very valid reason for some people, but not a valid reason for a decline in the wrestling viewing audience or the adult audience would have, throughout history, always declined.

19: Too much bad comedy: Self explanatory. People said if they wanted to watch comedy on Monday, they'd watch "Everybody Loves Raymond." They wanted to watch wrestling on Monday and weren't getting enough of it.

20: Rehashed storylines: Kurt Angle was doing all the same things that Steve Austin did to get over in 1997-98. People are watching repeats of what they had already seen. Part of the problem is during the 1997-2000 war period, so much was thrown out so fast that there is nothing new fans haven’t seen. Fans saw more angles and title changes in that four-year period than people who were fans from 1980-96 saw in 17 years, so everything started to look the same. It's not so much a lack of creativity, but paying for the excesses of the boom period.

21 Too many run-ins: Self explanatory. People have seen run-ins so often they became numbing. There is a reason for run-ins; to get heat. When you do it so often it becomes a regular occurrence, there is no heat. Now it's such an established part of wrestling that they are done in almost every match, and nobody probably ever stands back, gets away from the product, thinks about how the fan is taking this, and recognizes a pattern in some form needs changing. And there is a fear of change, so where if there is no run-in during the main events, there is no way to book a finish. To a lesser extent, too many referee bumps was also mentioned.

22: Lack of surprises: Things are too predictable. This isn’t the illogical swerves that make no sense from character consistency, but the surprises such as newcomers arriving and jumps like in the heyday.

23:Not enough wrestling: There is always the balance of how much time during a show should be wrestling time. Bottom line is a lot of these complaints are from people who romanticize about wrestling and what it was in the past, which, in reality, it more often that not wasn’t. Most wrestling TV shows since the early 80s consisted of 3-5 minute television matches. At one point, WCW Saturday Night under Dusty Rhodes, during a period where ratings declined greatly, was doing a 30 second squash match/90 second interview format. The long matches were always saved for the arenas, and bottom line, on PPV you get 10 minute matches on the undercard, and 20 minute main events that more often than not are great. But there are people not watching because not enough time is spent in the ring. There is also a newer audience weaned on skits that considers the time in the ring as boring unless it's with one of the five or six main guys. You can’t satisfy both audiences.

24: WCW and ECW getting buried in losses: More on the Botched Invasion. These are fans who have stopped watching because they were sick of their favorites getting buried in results. This is very similar to watching WCW in this city with the Mexican audience. Konnan and company came to San Jose for AAA and drew 4,500+. A few years later, they came back with WCW, as midcarders with all the so-called huge stars of WCW added to the mix, and drew 2,000, with virtually no Mexican fans coming to the show. The Mexicans, huge wrestling fans in this market, were not going to pay money to watch their superstars portrayed as midcarders nor care about seeing the people they relate to as non-stars. I can remember going to a Japanese video store the day after Chigusa Nagayo appeared as Zero on Nitro, and talking to the people working there who were fans, and how furious they were and wouldn't watch WCW afterwards for destroying their memory of their childhood hero. One of the biggest lures of wrestling, and everyone seems to have forgotten it is identifying with a hero who may stumble, but if he does, immediately gets back up and goes for it. When your hero loses cleanly and it doesn’t lead to them at least trying to rectify it, or they ignore it, you will lose faith. Why would the disenfranchised WCW fans pay to watch WCW wrestlers on WWF shows when they know they are bit players to be humiliated? It's the reason ethnic superheroes in the past drew, but having ethnics on the undercard just based on their ethnicity were a waste of a promoters' time.

25: Ruining Steve Austin: Once again, a character consistency issue as well as portraying someone as a heel that the fans want to cheer for. What’s frustrating about this one is we wrote about this the day he turned and it turned out exactly as we figured, only worse. Its Ric Flair in the Carolinas all over again, except on a national basis. Austin was great in the ring as a heel, and out of the ring. Problem is, fans liked him. They weren't going to pay money to boo him although to those there, he could manipulate the crowd every night with his actions to get the desired response. In wrestling, people see the desired response (hey, the crowd, even in Texas, is booing Austin, we manipulated them) and miss the real desired response (Austin no longer selling tickets and spiking ratings like he used to). Many have mentioned the Austin turn as the beginning of WWF problems, but I also think the botched, and I mean badly botched return of Rock has hurt them more of late. He came back huge, and then did illogical jobs on TV for Rhyno (which didn't even elevate Rhyno, just took Rock down) and was pinned by Stephanie, which actually I thought was cool because it led to a situation where he needed to get revenge on her. But when Rock didn’t even care, never acknowledged the losses or looked for revenge from them, never did an interview regarding Austin, HHH and Vince, who knocked him out of action, his story that the fans knew and wanted him to get revenge for was dropped. If he didn’t care about getting screwed and wasn’t going to get even, the fans aren’t going to care much about what he does. He became a character you pop for as part of a show, and he's still a huge star, but the extra drawing power and identification with his every move is now missing.

This is part of the Angle problem. Fans are not going to get emotionally behind as their hero a guy who so recently was wearing an undersized cowboy hat and a gold badge portraying the most uncool geek of a character.

Other items mentioned at least ten times in letters: Favorite wrestlers got old (unavoidable); The 9/11 Smackdown show (I was shocked by this, but a lot of people specifically pointed to WWF doing this show and also the interviews Vince and Stephanie did on the show as their last straw and they no longer watch): Bill Goldberg's winning streak ended by Kevin Nash; Portrayal of women on WWF and WCW broadcasts; Kevin Nash booking regime (if you go back, this is where WCW really started losing its TV audience); Fans were given too much during the hot period and now nothing in or out of the ring seems new or exciting; Lack of old school style slow building matches based around holds (again, some changes in style are unavoidable and it to me fits into the same unavoidable category because you cant slow it down when the believability aspect has gone out the window and the lack of believability aspect has changed the product to something I don’t think it can easily return to and if that's the kind of wrestling you want and grew up with, well, I can see the problem); Same people on top for too long so no new main events; and too much television product over the past few years burned out people on wrestling.
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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Found these posted on another forum. Not that old, mostly date back to the mid 00s period but I found them to be good reads.

Spoiler for Great American Bash 2004 Review + news:
WWE GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2004
Thumbs Up = 21 Votes (8.1%)
Thumbs Down = 205 Votes (78.2%)
In The Middle = 36 Votes (13.7%)

BEST MATCH POLL
Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero = 151 Votes
Eddy Guerrero vs. John Bradshaw Layfield = 82 Votes
John Cena vs. Booker T. vs. Rene Dupree vs. Rob Van Dam = 8 Votes

WORST MATCH POLL
Billy Gunn vs. Kenzo Suzuki = 79 Votes
Torrie Wilson vs. Sable = 77 Votes
The Undertaker vs. The Dudley Boys = 32 Votes
Mordecai vs. Bob Holly = 9 Votes

Goose stepping your way to the WWE title, and a storyline homicide were the themes of what was the worst WWE PPV show in a long time.

One of the key reasons WWE business overall, even with popularity falling, looks nothing like WCW, is because WWE has maintained a large percentage of its PPV audience. The reason? Unlike with WCW at the end, WWE PPV shows consistently deliver. But a collection of matches, most of which had no storyline build-up, featuring talent that wasn't ready for the PPV stage, led to a sad undercard. John Bradshaw Layfield became the most unlikely WWE champion, with the possible exception of Vince McMahon, in company history, by winning a Bullrope match over Eddie Guerrero, ending a planned long-term reign that wound up lasting four months.

But the company can't afford too many shows like the 6/27 Great American Bash at the Norfolk Scope. The fact PPVs are starting to feel like WCW in its decline was evident with a disappointing crowd of 6,500 fans for first ever WWE PPV event at the Scope, with about 5,500 paying $320,000.

The major storyline the show was built around was would Paul Bearer be put to death by Paul Heyman, inside a magician like glass case that was supposedly to be filled with quick drying cement that would suffocate him. In a scene that was partially pre-taped, Heyman's attempt to kill Bearer when Undertaker didn't lay down for the Dudleys ended when a lightning bolt came out of nowhere, stopping Heyman in his tracks. Then, Undertaker "surprisingly" pulled the lever and killed his long-time manager, for no apparent reason. What the purpose of all this was, other than an attempt to sell a weak PPV, is unknown. Bearer had just come back and only been on television a few times, so there was little emotional tie with him and Undertaker, even though they had a longstanding tie in the past. Most felt this was done to turn Undertaker heel, but that is very much up in the air, and Undertaker at this point is still being booked as a babyface at house shows. Bearer, who signed a three-year contract in late 2003, when McMahon came up with the idea to bring back the old Undertaker, is expected to work at least the remainder of his contract off in a front office job. The reaction to the angle was strongly negative. In the building, fans were quiet for a main event that came off more like a religious (non) passion play than a pro wrestling match, worse because it was in the main event spot. Fans leaving the Scope were said to be quiet, reacting as if this was hardly what they wanted to see out of pro wrestling. The curiosity over the Undertaker character has slightly increased Smackdown ratings, and strongly in his quarter hours, but it's not even certain where it ends.

There has been talk of putting Undertaker with Heyman as a full-fledged top heel, but even though that seemed the most logical direction, it's also the least likely. There was heat between Undertaker and Heyman stemming from the period when Heyman was head writer of Smackdown and wanted to tone down Undertaker's push and use him more to build newer characters. It is said Vince McMahon wanted Undertaker to be a tweener, who could work with anyone, figuring the fans would keep him babyface because it'll take a lot of work to get them to boo him. Smackdown is so weak on star power and he's considered by fans by far the biggest star, which makes it hard to be a heel, but the same thing can be said for HHH on Raw. There are three-ways with JBL vs. Guerrero vs. Undertaker booked. As things currently stand, plan for SummerSlam on the Smackdown side is JBL vs. Undertaker for the title, with Undertaker as a face, and Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle. Angle is already medically cleared to wrestle after resting his often injured neck, but the plan right now is to hold his return off until SummerSlam. Angle could also work against Cena, since that was his main rival as G.M., if Guerrero is put in the title mix. Working with Guerrero in a single would put a lot of pressure on Angle in what would likely be his first match back, because fans would be expecting a great match.

The title change to JBL was a relatively recent decision. It was McMahon's decision, as much to get the belt off Guerrero, as there was the feeling it was time for a heel champion to be chased. While Guerrero is far more popular than JBL among most of the wrestlers, and the reaction we got was negative to the decision, from a box office standpoint it really doesn't matter at this point. JBL's character has been thought of strongly by McMahon from the start. Michael Hayes and Bruce Prichard were also said to be strong advocates of JBL as champion. JBL was helped greatly by the controversy, because putting the belt on him enabled Vince in his own mind to thumb his nose at his detractors and win what was really an imaginary fight. It was clear from the interview on Smackdown that Vince was seeing JBL, due to the controversy, as an extension of himself, being unfairly persecuted in his mind, and vowing the last laugh. The Bullrope match saw both men touch three corners, and Guerrero apparently leap over JBL to touch the fourth, and he was announced as the winner and still champion. Angle came out and showed an instant replay, which showed JBL's back hit the fourth corner before Guerrero's hand, and the decision was reversed.

McMahon was not at the show, suffering from diverticulitis, a colon infection, that hospitalized him for a few days and didn't allow him to travel. Billy Graham was suffering from it in March. It would have been the first PPV show since King of the Ring 1994 he'd missed, but he was constantly on the phone during the show. Stephanie, Shane, HHH, Jim Ross, and Kevin Dunn were all in various forms of charge in his absence.

Besides the final match being a travesty, the show was marred by four matches with almost no build-up until days before, thrown out, all of which were bad. The three consecutive matches with Billy Gunn vs. Kenzo Suzuki, Torrie Wilson vs. Sable, and Bob Holly vs. Mordecai were as bad as any three straight matches on a WWE PPV in recent memory.

Paul Bearer was not actually inside the crypt, but instead they had someone dressed up like him. The close-up shots that aired on the screen were filmed earlier in the day. When Heyman pulled the lever for the cement to come out the first time, there was a snafu in the building and no cement came out. However, on the screen, they used the pre-tape, which showed Bearer in a case filling up. The guy in the crypt was buried underneath the cement for a few seconds before they opened the door and all the cement poured open.

A. Spike Dudley pinned Jamie Noble in 4:13 with the Dudley dog. Fans were into this match as this started as a hot crowd. Both worked well given the time limitations.

1. John Cena won the four-way to keep the U.S. title over Rene Dupree, Booker T and Rob Van Dam in 15:52. Cena, in his rap, brought up "G.I. Bro," which was Booker's first ring name and a name he used briefly in WCW 2000 when nobody was watching. It appeared that remark was over the head of the crowd. He also talked about Norfolk, a Navy city, saying Dupree was overly excited when he's surrounded by seamen. Van Dam was running wild, hitting a frog splash on Dupree, and another on Booker. Cena then pinned Van Dam in 8:19 with a schoolboy. This put Cena as the face in jeopardy as they got heat on him. Cena used the FU on Dupree and Booker hit Cena with an ax kick, but went to pin Dupree instead of Cena in 11:17. Cena's forearm was all bandaged and it started bleeding. Booker missed an ax kick and Cena pinned him after the FU. Nothing wrong with the match, but Cena in the ring was clearly not at the level of the other three. I think they'd have wanted more out of this bout. **

Backstage, Cena was hitting on Miss Jackie to a degree, right in front of Charlie Haas, who was doing the same. Haas was already suited up when Angle told him he had to face Luther Reigns immediately.

2. Luther Reigns pinned Charlie Haas in 7:11. Angle was at ringside for the match. Reigns looked bad. It's a broken record, but he needed to have spent months talking before being put in the ring, because the in-ring is never going to be his thing. He won with a move that starts as a reverse DDT and ends as a neckbreaker. They badly need to give catchy names to these new guys' finishers. *

3. Rey Mysterio retained the cruiserweight title over Chavo Guerrero in 19:40. They did reference Chavo Classic. Mysterio took a very believable looking spill that looked to have hurt his left knee. He sold it the rest of the way. Very psychologically sound and from a technical standpoint this was easily the best thing on the show. I just don't think people want cruiserweights to wrestle like small heavyweights. Mysterio kicked out of a Gori bomb, and came back with an enzuigiri and 619. Guerrero did a half crab working on the leg then went for another Gori bomb, but Mysterio reversed it into an infared for the pin. ***1/4

4. Kenzo Suzuki pinned Billy Gunn in 8:06 with a low blow and another move that started like a reverse DDT, but dropping high on Gunn's back on his knee like a backbreaker. Crowd was dead. The show started falling apart here. Suzuki's push is that he's a personal project of John Laurinaitis, who saw something in him that nobody else sees. Can you believe that, having never seen him wrestle (even though plenty of tapes of him in TNA and MLW were available), that this guy was booked to headline Bad Blood and all summer against Chris Benoit before it was dropped because his planned gimmick was recognized as a bad idea? -*

5. Sable pinned Torrie Wilson in 6:06. Only thing entertaining here was when Michael Cole talked about how the crowd was chanting for Torrie, and if you looked at the crowd, they were dead. The two knocked heads and that looked good. Sable was selling like she was knocked out. Problem is they've done this spot far too many times. You could see nobody buying it. Wilson wouldn't press the advantage. Sable then woke up and used a schoolgirl and turned Wilson over so far that one shoulder was nowhere near down and the other may not have been down either. It was so bad Cole and Tazz had to say how ref Charles Robinson counted when her shoulders weren't down. I thought the refs were instructed to call a match as if it was a shoot. I guess with these two in there, he didn't trust to not follow the original plan and force them to improvise. -*

6. Mordecai pinned Bob Holly in 6:31 with the razor's edge, which at least has a name and people popped for the finish. They made a big mistake having Mordecai sell so much, because it went from the powerful squash it needed to be to a boring match that hurt the guy who won. Holly was making the new guy pay with hard clotheslines, which is well and good, but that's not how you elevate a newcomer being geared for Undertaker and Guerrero. After this match, maybe they'll have second thoughts.1/4*

7. John Bradshaw Layfield won the WWE title from Eddie Guerrero in 21:06 in a Bullrope match. The rules were you had to touch all four corners and they had lights, one for each guy, when you touched a corner, which was a new touch. No pinfalls or submissions. As someone who saw tons of Bullrope matches involving Dusty Rhodes and others, it's not the easiest match to work and they did a good job. This wasn't as good as the Judgment Day match. There was good strategy such as guys hooking themselves to the ropes so they couldn't be tugged to new corners. Cole called Guerrero's car wrong, prompting Tazz to say that he didn't know his wrestling or his cars. JBL bled after a chair shot, in basically the same scene as their first PPV match. Guerrero rocked him with a second chair shot. Guerrero used three vertical suplexes and a frog splash, but Bradshaw rolled out of the ring before Guerrero could touch for fourth comer. JBL threw Guerrero off the middle rope and onto the Spanish announcers table, and the table didn't break, which had to jar the hell out of Guerrero. JBL then power bombed him through the table. Match ended with your classic Bullrope match finish, as both guys touched three corners and were struggling for No. 4. Guerrero leaped over JBL to win, which is the classic face finish, and was announced as the winner, until Angle reversed it. When fans realized Guerrero lost the title, he got a hell of a reaction out of appreciation. ***1/4

8. Undertaker beat The Dudleys in 14:42. Remember "The Dudley" gimmick to push them as singles? Yeah, in another month, nobody else will have either. Bubba taunted Undertaker, telling him to lie down and be pinned. He lay down, but then snatched D-Von and started fighting. The match consisted of Heyman pulling the lever whenever he was mad at Undertaker, who was supposed to lie down. Bearer kept saying that Undertaker would never let him die, and became so obnoxious about it that people would have half wanted him gone, if they cared. This was just dying as if felt like people just didn't want wrestling to turn into this and they didn't have their finger on the pulse. D-Von used a low blow, but Undertaker sat up. Paul Heyman pulled out the urn to control Undertaker, but instead, he choke slammed Bubba and pinned D-Von after a tombstone. Heyman vowed to flip the switch for good, when lightning struck him down. Undertaker paused in front of the switch, and then pulled it. A major flop of a main event.


Spoiler for Summerslam 2006 review + news:
Summerslam Poll Results

Thumbs Up: 131 (32.7%)
Thumbs Down: 149 (37.2%)
Thumbs in the Middle: 121 (30.2%)

Best Match Poll

John Cena vs. Edge: 224
Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley: 91
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton: 27
DX vs. McMahon’s: 23

Worst Match Poll

Batista vs. Booker T: 183
Big Show vs. Sabu: 84
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton: 49
DX vs. McMahon’s: 34
Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero: 33


The “biggest party of the summer” ended up being just another monthly PPV. Despite having so much star power, the show fell flat. With seven apparently big matches it came across as a transitional show rather than an event where issues ended. Dave said there is nothing wrong with inconclusive finishes to build, but that this show had them for no real reason other than to have them. Even worse, four of the seven matches had the same finish of a woman interfering, and it went from ridiculous to beyond ridiculous. In the case of Vickie Guerrero it was a step in the storyline, which Dave calls as nauseating a storyline as the company as ever done. Dave says as bad as it looks, he can understand the company’s mentality. In there eyes, they are helping Vickie out by making her a heel manager because it gives her a better income than she could otherwise get and feel they are honoring Eddie. The problem is that only the biggest WWE apologist would see it as not exploiting Eddie, and the crowd showed that by turning on the match, and the fans have shown that over the past few weeks by not caring about the feud at all. The company goes back and forth on crowd reactions by either listening to them or pushing back even harder, and in this case the company will be pushing back and are determined to see this angle through.

Dave understood the Melina finish in the I Quit match and thought it was clever as part of the storyline. Said Foley was never going to let Flair say “I Quit”, and that it would take something beyond physical punishment to get Foley to say it without violating his entire character.

Said that with them having those two finishes, which is one too many, the Sharmell interference finish in the Batista vs. Booker T match was a bad idea. Also said it was telling of them having no ideas because there were numerous other DQ finishes they could have done, seeing as it wasn’t going to lead to anything as it was just a way to get out of beating Batista or changing the title.

Said the finish to the main event, with Lita interfering, would have been fine except for what happened on the undercard and the match stipulation and said it ended a damn good main event by rubbing in how bad the overall booking of the show was.

Said the match quality was ok and apart from the ECW and World title matches nothing was bad as far as the wrestling goes. Called it a mix bag, with a show that should have had memories having nothing you’d really remember except for a lot of blood in the I Quit match and the Hogan comeback.

Said the Cena vs. Edge match was the best match, but no better than most WWE PPV main events and calling it the same good match they’ve been having at house shows since the start of the year.

Called Foley vs. Flair a bloodbath of major proportions and said that if it was 20 years ago it would have been considered a gruesome classic but that it wasn’t long enough or diverse enough to be labeled a classic. Dave said that it felt like the blood and barbed was done just for the sake of it, but that it wound up telling the only real story in a match of the whole night.

Said the live crowd considered Hogan the biggest thing on the show, and said he treated Orton as a stooge for his routine as opposed to a serious opponent, but it worked as well as anything on the show and it led to some funny insider stuff…

Hogan did the crotch chop to Orton as a buzz to Shawn Michaels as the two haven’t any interaction since the year before where Michaels spent hours trying to get to beat Hogan to no avail due to Hogan having creative control. Later on at Summerslam, Hunter did Hogan’s ear cupping deal to get a reaction and got less than half the reaction Hogan did earlier and you could tell Hunter was bothered by that. However, at Raw the next night, when Vince and Kevin Dunn were telling people how much of a success the show was and how the DX vs. McMahon’s angle was the hottest in the company, they specifically said that DX outdid Hogan and that is now the official company line as to what happened at the show.

While Hogan had the sympathy in-built from the knee injury and it could have made the match famous with Hogan battling valiantly but losing in the end because of the knee, Hogan didn’t see it that way and won instead in a match that was forgotten the next day. Said given how the booking committee works, you can’t blame Hogan or Foley for doing what they were able to do with creative control, and that it also showed the difference between the two. Hogan is all for his own legacy, which Dave said is fine because it’s a business where selfishness is a virtue, at least for your own career. Foley was for creating a story where he could lose but in doing so elevate Melina, who he is friends with and wanted to give the main event rub to.

The show drew a sellout of 16,168, with about 13,500 paid. The gate is likely to be around $800,000.

Chavo Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio: **1/4. JBL got heat for his comment about Eddie falling off the wagon, and for something he said later in the show about Batista crying like a bitch when he had to give up the title.
Big Show vs. Sabu: *1/2. Called it a garbage style match and not even a good one.
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton: **1/4.
Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley: ***1/2. Said that the fans chanting “we want fire” during the heavy bloodshed gave it a sense of them viewing it a geek show performance rather than a dramatic wrestling match.
Batista vs. Booker T: ½*. Almost everyone Dave spoke with internally were pretty open regarding Batista’s work. Said Batista was slow and tentative, with none of the explosiveness he used to have, and with his age, losing some size and his injuries said all he has going for him now is the star power he got from playing off of Hunter and Flair.
DX vs. Vince and Shane: ***1/4.
Edge vs. John Cena: ***3/4. Said the story once again was Cena getting booed, and how heavily he was booed depended on where in the building you were, with reports of the crowd being anywhere from 40%-75% pro-Cena.

Other News

WWE and Sci-Fi are close to signing a new deal for ECW.

On the 8/15 ECW show, the Foley beatdown by Knox and Test was meant to lead to Sandman, Dreamer and Foley vs. Test, Knox and someone else the following week. When Foley decided the blowoff to his angle would the match with Flair and combined with the angle the next night, it made the idea redundant. Foley didn’t nix the beatdown, but because the match it was to have led to got scrapped, the beatdown made no sense.

The 12/3 ECW PPV will be held at the Richmond County Civic Center in Augusta, GA, and will be called the December to Dismember.

Matt Striker and Hardcore Holly were moved to the ECW brand this week.

Kurt Angle was being examined over his groin injury on 8/21, and there is now fear that he has a new injury. The Angle/ECW deal has gotten worse in the last few weeks, with people having apparently gone to Vince and John Laurinitis to get Angle taken out of ECW after Angle supposedly said he didn’t’ want to be in ECW unless he got a main event title push. Angle’s biggest issues are non-wrestling. Angle’s family relies on him for financial and emotional support and his wife, who is pregnant with his first son, is leaving him again. Dave mentioned that that would throw anyone for a loop, but combine that with Angle’s breaking down, and his denial of it, and it could see some major issues down the line.

The 2007 PPV schedule looks like this: New Year’s Revolution on 1/7 in Kansas City at the Kemper Arena, Royal Rumble on 1/28 at the SBC Center in San Antonio, No Way Out on 2/18 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Wrestlemania on 1/ 4 at Ford Field in Detroit, Backlash on 4/29 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Judgment Day on 5/20 at Savvis Center in St. Louis, and One Night Stand on 6/10 at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

While Vince was snapping at people on Raw, he was also snapping at people in real life backstage as he was in a foul mood.

There is apparently a list of words that announces are no longer allowed to say on-air, including the terms “belt” and “strap”. They are banned from WWE, OVW and DSW, because Vince thinks they are linked to old-time wrestling.


Spoiler for WM 22 review + news and a bunch of other shit. Some Torch notes at the end as well:
WRESTLEMANIA 22 POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up 612(81.6%)
Thumbs down 41 (05.5%)
In the middle 97 (12.9%)

BEST MATCH POLL
Edge vs. Mick Foley 282
Money in the Bank ladder match 176
John Cena vs. HHH 109
Mysterio vs. Orton vs. Angle 84
Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon 79

WORST MATCH POLL
Boogeyman vs. Booker T & Sharmell 314
Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson 300
Undertaker vs. Mark Henry 49
Angle vs. Mysterio vs. Orton 10

Based on phone calls, e-mails and fax messages to the Observer of Tuesday, 4/4.

The 22nd Wrestlemania, on paper, did not appear to be a show worthy of the name, but due to the effort of those in the ring, the show greatly exceeded most expectations, even from people expecting the modern day Wrestlemania effort and a good show.

I'm not sure exactly when to trace the change, but at some point in the late 90s, Wrestlemania went from being everyone's best payoff of the year, and really, in many people's eyes, only a little more, to the Super Bowl it was always billed as for the participants. The change was probably a slow deal where the generation who grew up watching Wrestlemania on PPV became wrestlers, and all wanted to live up to their memories of things like Ricky Steamboat's match with Randy Savage in 1987. While many of the moments in early Wrestlemanias, due to the great hype job, have become probably the biggest parts of history to the general public, you really don't find all that many great matches in first generation Wrestlemanias. This year was another prime example that this is the show everyone aims to have their best match of the year on. Due to time constraints in many cases, it isn't always possible, but from an effort standpoint up and down the show, this card was a pretty big step up from usual WWE fare.

This year didn't feature a match like Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels, which will go down as one of the top matches in Mania history. But the performances of many people, from Shawn Michaels to Shelton Benjamin to Edge and Mick Foley and even HHH made several matches come across far better than they had any right to be. In the end it was a spectacular show, very worthy of the name. Whether the company achieves its financial goals, which were to break the company's record of 1,040,000 PPV buys set in 2001 (and with international, as well as far more domestic homes wired, that record is far easier to achieve nowadays) is a question. We did hear of examples in the U.S., and even more so in the U.K., where they were hoping for close to 200,000 buys alone, of cable operators being flooded with last minute orders, which delayed people seeing the show until well after it had started. If nothing else, that has to be taken as a positive sign, that in the end, a lot of people on the fence about the show decided at the last minute, what the heck, the line-up may not be great but Wrestlemania only comes once a year.

The 4/2 show at the All-State Arena in Chicago drew a sellout of 17.155 fans paying $2.5 million. An example of how ticket price increases affect the live gate is shown that in 1997, when in the same arena, then called the Rosemont Horizon, was sold out for Mania (with the famous I Quit match with Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin and the weak main event of Psycho Sid vs. Undertaker for the WWF title), the gate was $837,150. This year's gate was the third largest ever for pro wrestling in the U.S., trailing 2001 Mania at the Astrodome ($3,530,905) and the 2003 Mania at Safeco Field in Seattle ($2,760,035). It was the largest gate ever for an traditional arena setting, as opposed to an enclosed baseball/football stadium setting, beating the $2.4 million figure set for WM XX in 2004 in Madison Square Garden. Both Toronto Wrestlemanias, held at Skydome, also beat this year's total, and the company had a show at the Colonial Stadium in Melbourne, Australia in 2002 that did better, so it would rank as No. 6 overall in company records.

A lot of decisions were made, changed, and made again in the weeks leading to the event. If there was a negative to be said, it was that, in the end, it still proved to be what many wrestlers have called it of late, a vanity promotion for the owner and his family. Now that isn't to knock any of their performance. Vince McMahon did all that you could ask for and more, given that he's not a wrestler, not to mention he's almost 61 and because of muscle/tendon imbalances he likely has, he's a walking major muscle tear waiting to happen. In a sense, they were careful as McMahon didn't try anything himself, but was willing to take an incredibly solid pounding with gimmick shots. The key spot in the match was Michaels climbing to nearly the top of a 15 foot ladder, so he was a good 13 feet off the ground, and came down with an elbow drop on McMahon through a table, a move that no doubt will be described for all eternity as a 30 foot drop. While that sounded and looked impressive, to the wrestlers it was even more so because McMahon had a garbage can around his head. That meant he actually couldn't see Michaels falling and tense himself to take the blow, which is a big deal. In boxing, the gimmick when you see a boxer stick his chin out and dare the guy to hit it, the bottom line is if you see the punch coming and ready for it, you can tense yourself. That spot in boxing is getting over to the public that you are fearless and can take a punch, but the people within boxing see right through it. Usually, it's the punch you don't see coming and you aren't braced for is the one that puts you to sleep. McMahon obviously knew it was coming, but he had to brace for several seconds because he didn't know the exact moment he was getting taken out.

The McMahon match very well could have been the biggest drawing single match on the show, due to the fact it was given the most TV time and strongest storylines. John Cena vs. HHH was clearly positioned as the main event, to the point the SmackDown main event was pretty well purposely made a distant second. In laying out the show, both matches got the most time, and the match, which on paper, figured to be the best, the SmackDown main, was shortchanged to just 9:18, ending when Mysterio pinned Randy Orton after a springboard hurricanrana.

They were given barely longer than the women's title match was given and seventh longest of the 11 match-show. Because of that, the expected big emotional reaction to Rey Mysterio's title win wasn't really there.

Two days later, Orton was suspended for 60 days for unprofessional conduct. We don't have full details of the story, but what we do know is this. There have been a series of incidents that date back to January. It is those behavioral problems that led to the decision to bring in Kurt Angle after Royal Rumble as champion instead of putting the title on Orton. Another incident happened around late February although the exact time may be off a week or two. I believe it happened shortly after No Way Out, and since he had won the match to get the title shot, they apparently decided against suspending him immediately because of Mania. The decision was made to punish him (and he had been fined in the interim, and probably on more than one occasion). It was this incident that led to the decision not to give him at the title at Wrestlemania, which had been the long-term plan before Batista was injured. There was the feeling his behavior was getting out of control in recent weeks and that it was only going to get worse. The final straw is something he did in Chicago in the days leading up to Wrestlemania. The only thing we could find out is it caused a near disaster and is being kept under wraps. It was not something that would have been good for the company. Obviously, it must have been extremely serious for them to take a main eventer out of the already depleted SmackDown line-up.

In addition, we're told the 60 days is a minimum, and it is actually an indefinite suspension, and the incident was so bad it is not a lock he'll be brought hack, and that anyone other than a top guy would be gone for sure. Even though WWE publicly announced the suspension on 4/4, he worked the SmackDown tapings after the story was out, putting over Mysterio in a title match, and is expected to put over Angle in the first round of the King of the Ring tournament on the 4/11 tapings. When saying with such a thin roster on top that you know he's coming back, the story is that if you knew the story of why he was suspended, you would expect he wouldn't be brought back. Again, I'm sketchy on full details, but the decision to put Mysterio in the Mania match and make it a three-way was said to have been made before the February incident, but that was the incident that led to changing the decision from Orton getting the title. We do know the company hadn't been happy with Orion's treatment of women, particularly some of the women that came out of the first diva search competition. It had become almost a running joke more than a year ago, as stories from women in the company who had left had gotten out. It is not clear the Chicago incident or the prior incident had anything to do with that.

The person who may benefit from this would be Ken Kennedy when he's ready to return, because there is a clear spot open for a top heel. They could also fortify that spot if they do a draft this year, but every year the draft is needed to fortify SmackDown, and the end result is always that it strengthens Raw and buries SmackDown.
The Chicago crowd was unique in reactions. The company completely expected John Cena to be booed out of the place, but did not expect Mysterio and Trish Stratus to be booed, to the point Jim Ross almost did the insulting the fans saying they are trying to be defiant like they would do in cities like Toronto. It's ironic because most major market Wrestlemanias have this reaction, but when the same thing happens in Madison Square Garden, the company reaction is the Garden is the precursor to what will happen in the rest of the country and make plans to turn people, while Chicago and Toronto are defiant fans trying to get themselves over.

It appeared the booing of Mysterio wasn't a rejection of him as much as the crowd loving Kurt Angle. The booing of Stratus was more based on cheering Mickie James. Stratus was not booed at first, but there was a small chant for James early on, but as the match went on, it seemed like it became the thing to do and in the end, James was heavily cheered and Stratus was heavily booed. They expected the booing of Cena, to the point the company came up with an explanation. According to one company source, instead of the double turn idea that had been brought up, Vince McMahon is determined that in the end, he is going to win this latest battle with his audience and get people to cheer John Cena. It's his new game. The strategy is for Cena to stay defiant of the people who boo him, continue to work like a babyface, be portrayed as the ultimate babyface, and rallying his kids and women fan base to stay behind him and label the rest of the fan base "haters." The idea is to make the odds always against him, and portray him as someone who has less skill, but is the underdog in every match because of it. The announcers would stick with Cena, with the idea that the fans who boo Cena are "traditional" wrestling fans, i.e., portraying them as the crowd old and out-of-touch, which is the last label the largely young male fan base booing him wants to be part of. The booing of Cena is because the traditional fan base respects HHH as the better wrestler because he's the biggest star in wrestling now.

There were more than a few people laughing, since HHH had bad-mouthed Kurt Angle, saying he was cheered against Cena in their program because he didn't know how to play heel. As the story goes, with HHH, it's not the same thing, it's because the crowd recognizes HHH as the best wrestler in the company. You can insert your own punch line.

WWE on its own web site explained it as "The Cerebral Assassin's greatest mind game may have been turning the majority of the capacity crowd against the WWE champion." In the arena, during almost every break and during many of the backstage skits, loud "Cena sucks" chants broke out. Live reports indicated about 80% of the crowd was negative toward Cena, and while there were small pro-HHH chants, even during the match, the atmosphere wasn't for the match itself, but it was those hating Cena vs. those liking Cena, just as it has been for a lot of the past seven months since Jericho and SummerSlam. Whether it had been Edge, HHH, Angle, Gene Snitsky, Chris Masters or Steve Lombardi, the reaction was going to be pretty much the same.

In the end, in a surprise, Cena won via tap out with the STFU when it appeared HHH would make it to the ropes. I fully expect HHH gets the title and defends against Rob Van Dam (who won the money in the bank ladder match, and then on TV all but outright said he would take his title shot at the ECW PPV) on the 6/12 PPV, but the title change will simply be moved back a few weeks or a month. Saying anything will happen is foolish because, as noted, the idea of what to do next changes every ten minutes. There are people talking about turning Cena, but it seems unlikely because of the merchandise, but there is a feeling he's better off chasing the title. HHH going babyface and feuding with Edge over the title has been talked about as well, but HHH has nixed all talk of going face for years now. At Mania, both HHH and Michaels did a crotch chop, testing out a DX deal, and if they are linked up again as DX, they almost have to be faces.

The big hint on the show was them actually airing the TV commercial where Cena said he would take back what was his at Backlash midway through Wrestlemania, leading to the surprise of him actually winning, which few expected. A similar sleight of hand was also done with the SmackDown title match, when Orton talked about being champion, and Dave Batista (who is coming back much sooner than he probably should, perhaps by the end of this month or early next month) returned to confront him to basically tease that as an upcoming title match program.

While Mysterio was booed during his match, he was not booed at winning. He couldn't have been booed afterwards, since he broke down and cried, while being congratulated by Chavo Guerrero and Vickie Guerrero. But the reaction was nowhere near expected. Part of the reason was such a pro-Angle crowd, but also, the match was too short and the people hadn't been drawn to it at such a deep level to explode at the outcome. Mysterio, Angle and Randy Orton were going in the direction of having the classic Wrestlemania match, when, with no build, Mysterio pinned Orton. The people simply weren't ready to pop big.

Mysterio's title win, from an historical standpoint, was the most noteworthy event on the show. At 5-2 and 165 pounds, Oscar Gutierrez, 31, is, by far, the smallest man ever to hold a major world's heavyweight title in the history of pro wrestling. The idea for him to win had been bounced around since the death of Eddy Guerrero in November. Guerrero, who was 5-6 Vi and 210-220 pounds, and Chris Benoit, and 5-8 1/2 and 225 pounds, were the smallest champions in company history, and all were in the past few years. Mad Dog Vachon, a multi-time AWA champ in the 60s, was probably 5-7, but because of his ability to project complete and uncontrolled violence, he never came across as a small guy. With Benoit and Guerrero, because a lot of wrestlers were around their size as the game in WWE has become more about quickness and match quality as opposed to huge immobile guys like in the 80s. had no backlash whatsoever. With Mysterio, the smallest guy in the company, the idea of giving it to him is somewhat different. The plan always was for him to get it at some point this year. Mysterio was the plan after the Guerrero death, and then it was changed to Randy Orton. From the booking in recent weeks, it became clear, since Mysterio was either beaten, or if not, beaten down, by the top guys, at almost every turn, that he was going over. Most seemed to expect it, and I believe the booing in the crowd was people who fully expected him to win and felt Angle should retain.

The debate as far as show-stealing match went, pretty well was narrowed down to the Money in the Bank ladder match and the Edge vs. Mick Foley hardcore match. The former was a spectacular spotfest, with one crazy ladder spot right after the other. It was probably five minutes from peaking when it was over, and also not quite on the level as the similar match the year before, which had a higher caliber of wrestlers. The latter delivered the blood and used objects like barbed wire and thumb tacks, and a flaming table finish. Both men sacrificed themselves to attempt to steal the show in the most painful manner possible. While the match was brutal and bloody and was the consensus match of the night (I liked the ladder match more, but they were close), the Mania stage will make it legendary as I thought the recent Against All Odds Rhino vs. Abyss TNA PPV crazy spot brawl was right at the same level, really only lacking the aura of the names and the stage, and wasn't even considered for best match of that night. McMahon took a tremendous beating from Shawn Michaels, although Michaels' facials and body language carried what was essentially a one-sided beating that pretty successfully hid McMahon's athletic weaknesses. While Michaels may not have had the best match this year, as he had in more Wrestlemanias than any man in history, he more than lived up to his Mr. Wrestlemania moniker.

The announcing, when you look at how everything went down, was nothing short of weird. Michael Cole and Tazz did the SmackDown matches and were fine. Jim Ross did the Raw matches with Jerry Lawler, and without Jonathan Coachman, and it was the best Raw announcing team since the decision to put Coachman in the booth. But because Styles was so popular at some of the activities during the week, the decision was changed again the day of the show to have him announce one match, the Foley vs. Edge match. In fact, when Ross, Lawler, Tazz and Cole came out, there was a loud "We Want Joey" chant, from the fan base that hasn't been brainwashed into the idea that Styles can't announce because you get told over and over that is the case. Earlier in the day, at the company \\rcstleniania brunch. Styles said you can ask him anything you want, because. "What are they going to do? Kick me off Wrestlemania?" I think it was abundantly clear listening to that match that the problem, and this is hardly some major revelation, was Coachman, and not Styles. And while Style was given a very public slap in the face last week when he was pulled, Coachman in the end got a less publicized version of the same thing, as it was never made public he wouldn't be calling the matches, was never acknowledged, but at least Styles got the consolation prize of calling one match, that figured ahead of time to be one of the top matches on the show.

The ladder match had both announcing teams, but it was clear Ross was carrying the broadcast and I thought it was the best announced match on the show, although the main event was also very good. So the next night on Raw, it was back to Coachman, Lawler and Styles. Even if Ross isn't interested in going back full-time, now that we've seen the deal without Coachman being better, it's hard to understand why he's still there.

A lot of the wrestlers didn't know their finishes late that day because so many changes were made, including the big matches. I was told, and it was particularly obvious in the women's match, that if you go back, you could read the faces of a lot of people as they came through the entrance way and know the finishes, because telling people so late made it hard for them not to show it as they would if they knew a week in advance. In the end, based on original commercials for Backlash, the tag team title situation was changed. Instead of going to Chris Masters & Carlito as new champs and defending against Kane & Big Show, they split Masters & Carlito up and turned Carlito face, and put the Spirit Squad over as the heel champs. I doubt there was any question about Edge going over, and 1 couldn't even imagine Mickie James not going over based on the direction of the feud. The Cena win was a change clearly designed to fool people, like Cena's loss to Edge was, and like it, most likely this isn't a real direction change but a delay in going down the same path. RVD's win and the dynamic of HHH vs. RVD at the ECW PPV seems more likely than Cena vs. RVD, although Vince McMahon is very strong on the idea of Cena as a babyface right now. In addition, TV interviews by Michaels and Ric Flair also wanting shots does seem to indicate the champ will be a heel soon enough. A. The show opened with a dark match 18 Battle Royal with most of the names on the roster who weren't on the main card. The only notable absences from this match were Paul London and Brian Kendrick. It came down to MNM, Road Warrior. Viscera and Gene Snitsky. MNM was eliminated first from that group. Road Warrior was next, and his elimination looked weird, as he immediately put his foot on the apron and the refs couldn't figure out what to do. This left Viscera with Snitsky, and Viscera tossed Snitsky out and then kissed Lillian Garcia on the way out.

1. Kane & Big Show retained the World tag titles over Chris Masters & Carlito in 6:41. There were surprisingly loud chants for "Carlito" early on. Show pressed Masters and dropped him. Masters rolled out and Show pressed Carlito and threw him over the top rope onto Masters. Kane then came off the top rope onto both guys, but really was trying to clothesline Masters. The finish saw Show have Carlito set up for the choke slam, when Masters gave Show a chop block. Masters then came off the top rope with a double sledge, but Show moved, and Carlito got nailed. Kane pinned Carlito with a choke slam. Masters and Carlito argued after the match. Kane and Carlito were better than they've been on TV, but not much to the match. *3/4

2. Rob Van Dam won the Money in the Bank ladder match in 12:21 over Shelton Benjamin, Matt Hardy, Ric Flair, Fit Finlay and Bobby Lashley. Van Dam and Flair were clearly the two most popular, and really the only two who had a shot at winning. Van Dam did a dive over the top rope onto Hardy, who was holding a ladder so Van Dam crashed into it. A ladder was put resting on the ropes and Benjamin ran up the ladder legs and did a flip dive on Lashley, Hardy and RVD. Hardy superplexed Flair over the top of the ladder. Flair worked that his knee was blown out and was screaming and taken to the back. Benjamin tried a power bomb on Lashley off the ladder, but Finlay and Hardy to help him pull Lashley off. Flair then came back limping and was going crazy, chopping everyone in sight. Lashley was climbing and RVD came off the top rope, holding a chair with a dropkick to Lashley's kidneys. Hardy did a legdrop from two-thirds of the way up a ladder on Lashley. Hardy did a side effect of the ladder on Finlay. Flair had been largely eliminated a second time taking a long back bump off a ladder when he was knocked off. RVD came off the very top of the ladder with a splash onto Finlay. That drew a loud "ECW" chant. The finish saw two ladders in place. Hardy, Benjamin and RVD were all climbing. RVD switched ladders and kicked over the ladder, sending Benjamin and Hardy over the top rope to the floor, and he grabbed the briefcase to win. ****

Howard Finkel introduced the Hall of Fame inductees next. He stated beforehand that Bret Hart was uncomfortable about being there. I expected a lot more negative reaction because it was more just quiet, seemingly that people totally understood The crowd reaction for Vickie and Chavo Guerrero was just incredible, even more than you’d expect and you could see it really made both of them very happy. William Perry and Verne Gagne got nice reactions.

3. JBL won the U.S. title from Chris Benoit in 9:44. Match was too short for a Benoit Wrestlemania match. They also played too much on Guerrero for easy heat. Well, you'd think that. JBL kept doing the Guerrero dance, and either people didn't know it because he did it so badly, or they didn't care, because people didn't react. However, when JBL tried the three amigos, people were not happy with that. Benoit blocked the third suplex and Benoit came back with the three amigos of his own. He got a near fall with a diving head-butt. Benoit ducked a clothesline and got the crossface. JBL, while caught in the move, rolled Benoit to his back and held the ropes for the pin. JBL may have been on of the few people fully aware of his result, since he guaranteed it on TV, and also did the storyline that by beating both Guerrero and Benoit, the two best technical wrestlers of the era, both for major titles, it makes him the best technical wrestler in the world. **3/4

4. Edge pinned Mick Foley in a hardcore match in 14:37. Foley took abuse early with hard cookie sheet and broiler pan shots to the head, followed by a dropkick of a sign to the face. Since this stuff hasn't been done here much of late, it wasn't boring comedy like they turned it into. Edge speared Foley, but then sold it, because Foley took off his flannel shirt and revealed he had hidden barbed wire underneath. Foley whipped him with barbed wire, and then got a barbed wire but hidden under the ring steps. Lita ran in and jumped on Foley's back. With Lita on his back, Foley ran toward Edge and did his running clothesline spot where all three went over the top rope together. She landed right on her butt, which is a lot better than landing on her head. Foley used a neck breaker on the entrance ramp. Edge hip tossed Foley into the ring steps and Foley took the bump hard on his hip. He then whipped Foley into the steps and he took a header. Edge pulled out a table and set it up near the ring. He whipped Foley on the entrance ramp and his head hit the grilling hard. He poured lighter fluid on Foley. Edge DDT'd Foley on a broiler pan after Lita distracted him. Edge hit Foley in the chest and back with the barbed wire bat, then tore up his head with it and gave him a facebuster on it. Foley poured thumb tacks and gave Edge a back suplex on the thumb tacks. Edge had tons of tacks sticking in his back. Foley pulled out Mr. Socko and wrapped him in barbed wire, and put both Lita and Edge in the claw. Lita bled from the mouth. The finish saw Foley pour lighter fluid on the table. Lita hit Foley in the knees with a barbed wire bat. Lita lit the table on fire. Edge then speared Foley, who was on the apron, and both went through the flaming table with Edge on top for the pin. Fans gave Foley a standing ovation after the match. ****

Next was a freak show segment. Booker T was looking for Boogeyman. Instead, he saw Paul Burchill practicing his fencing technique. Gene Snitsky practicing his toe sucking technique on Mae Young, Ted DiBiase doing a retro Million Dollar Man gimmick where he asked Eugene to bounce the basketball 100 times and kicked it away at 98. Goldust was there wearing a dress and hitting on Booker.

5. Boogeyman beat Booker T & Sharmell T in 3:52. Boogeyman was wearing this fur all over to cover up his born left biceps. They didn't do much of anything, but what they did looked terrible. They really couldn't do much since Boogeyman was hurt. Boogeyman pulled a huge handful of worms out of his pocket and ate them. There looked like there were 200 of them. He then kissed Sharmell, who ran off with worm drool all over her mouth. Boogey then pinned Booker immediately with the neck hanging tree slam. Booker T was the one guy after the show who was not at all happy with his match and how he was used. -*

6. Mickie James won the WWE women's title from Trish Stratus in 8:48. Crowd wasn't into it early, but they sure were by the end. Stratus kicked the ringpost and sold her left leg for much of the match. James wrapped her leg around the post. At this point a "Let's Go Mickie" chant started which ended up being the real story of the match. Very quickly, the crowd started booing the hell out of Stratus. Stratus did a tremendous job in the match in carrying James, who was also better than usual. Stratus failed going for the Stratusfaction. James came back to do the move, but they both collapsed and fell in a heap. It appeared that was the finish, or whatever they were doing got botched. They just got up and James hit a very weak looking kick and pinned her. **

Vince led the McMahon family in a hilarious prayer to God. Vince was roasted, like he had spent a month in a tanning bed, complete with blisters and had then put on 40 coats of that self-tanning stuff that makes you orange instead of tan. He knew God didn't like him, but he was going to send God's favorite wrestler to hell. Unless God told Shawn personally this week that he wants to be used in a wrestling angle with Vince and let Shawn make money merchandising him, somehow I wouldn't think he's really God's favorite wrestler

7. Undertaker beat Mark Henry in a casket match in 9:26. A nothing match The only thing saving it from being a bad match is that toward the finish Undertaker did this insane running dive over the top. Now granted, he's done that on big shows before, but there was a casket on the floor and he had to jump over the ropes and clear the casket, or he'd be in a lot of trouble. This is a 44-year-old man with a destroyed body due to injuries who is 6-9 and around 300 pounds doing this. He did it, flew, landed on Henry. Then, almost as scary he picked up the 400-pounder with a tombstone piledriver. For anyone under 300, that's not a big deal, but that's a lot of weight to hold, and one slip, and that's not a pretty thought. It turned out fine, in that neither Undertaker nor Henry was hurt. It didn't turn out fine as far as being a good match. * 1/2

8. Shawn Michaels pinned Vince McMahon in 18:28 in a street fight. After Michaels' bashed Vince's head in with his first object, the entire Spirit Squad ran in for distraction No. I. They the upsy daisy on Michaels, but Kenny missed a legdrop off the top rope. Michaels got the megaphone and cleaned house on all five guys. The big move was Michaels left with Kenny, and he hip tossed him over the top rope. Kenny flew like he was shot out of a cannon and his team caught him. That was the end of their first Mania. Vince was already bleeding badly from above the eye. Vince whipped Michaels many times with his belt. Big-time heat here. Shane McMahon came out and beat on Michaels with a kendo stick. Michaels came back with a low blow and handcuffed Shane to the ropes. Michaels destroyed Vince and Shane with hard kendo stick shots and nailed Vince with a hard chair to the head. Vince really did almost nothing, and no wrestling, but it was carried because he felt Michaels hit him as hard as he could with objects, not to mention Michaels' incredible facial expressions that kept people with it in what was really a one-sided slaughter devoid of any usual psychology, while Shane was handcuffed and had to watch. He would tease doing a superkick, then hold up, then make faces, beat Vince around, tease it again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. The climax was he pulled out a 15 foot ladder, put Vince on a table, put the garbage can over his head, and came off with an elbow drop. Michaels finally hit the superkick for the win. Vince was carried out on a stretcher, but flipped off the audience on his way out. ***1/2

9. Rey Mysterio won the WWE title in a three-way over champ Kurt Angle and Randy Orton in 9:18. Mysterio got a big ring entrance with the band P.O.D. from Chula Vista playing his entrance music, and him coming out with a big Mayan headdress like Canek used to wear and Mil Mascaras sometimes wore. This was a fast paced excellent match with an abrupt finish. Orton hit Angle with a belt shot. Mysterio came off the ropes but Orton hit him with a backdrop. Orton was behind Mysterio and then Angle got behind Orton and lifted, basically German suplexing Orton who in turn threw Mysterio into orbit. Angle at one point threw Mysterio overhead into a hurricanrana on Orton. At this point the crowd started with a "Let's Go Angle" chant and then turned on Mysterio and started booing his offense. They booed his attempt at a 619, and cheered when Angle did the ankle lock off it like on TV. Mysterio tapped, but Orton had ref Charles Robinson distracted so he missed it. Angle then put the ankle lock on Orton. and Orton tapped, but Mysterio had Robinson distracted. Orton used an RKO on Angle, but Angle kicked out. Angle was being booked as superman since he was losing his title. Angle did a belly to belly off the top rope on Orton. Mysterio then nailed Angle with a 619 and springboard Thesz press but Angle kicked out. Angle did the Angle slam on Orton for a near fall. Mysterio then knocked Angle out of the ring and did a 619 on Orton and a springboard hurricanrana for the pin. The crowd booed Mysterio the entire match, but cheered when he won, although not the way it should have been. He went to the back and at that point Chavo & Vickie Guerrero came out to congratulate him. Crowd cheered a lot, but it was not the moment you would have expected from reading it. ***1/2

10. Torrie Wilson pinned Candice Michelle in 3:54 in the Playboy Pillow fight match. This was not the lingerie pillow fight people expected. It was more clothes tearing, bad wrestling, nobody cared this late in the show (it was designed to be crummy so HHH and Cena would get a fresh audience) type deal. Both ended up with their dressed torn and Wilson won with a schoolgirl. DUD

11. John Cena beat HHH in 22:02 to retain the WWE title. It was real clear this was portrayed as the main event. They had the most elaborate entrances, with HHH coming out as Konnan, and Cena coming out as a Chicago gangster with a bunch of gangsters in the car, many from OVW including C.M. Punk. It should be noted OVW star Colt Cabana was a druid for Undertaker earlier in the show. Fans seem to boo both men early, but Cena far more. HHH ended up getting cheered and worked almost as the face early. It was slow paced early. HHH did his Harley Race bump over the top. He also took a backdrop on the metal ramp. He whipped Cena into the steps. Cena did a big comeback and got booed. He did a hard clothesline, the five knuckle shuffle and STFU, but HHH got to the ropes. The heat in the last few minutes of the match was excellent and HHH really deserves credit for carrying this match. HHH laid out Cena and did the same DX crotch chop that Michaels did late in his match. Crowd popped real big for it. HHH got the sledge hammer and used it, but Cena kicked out. Cena used the FU, but HHH kicked out. HHH went for the pedigree, but Cena reversed it into the STFU and HHH tapped out. The last several minutes had excellent heat, as much people for and against Cena but in the end the tension for the match was strong. It was a better match than HHH vs. Batista was last year. ***3/4

Cena may be headlining against Rob Van Dam at the ECW PPV this summer as part of a plan to turn him full-fledged heel soon after. Originally, the widespread believe in WWE was that Triple H would want to headline the ECW PPV as a heel against ECW's own RVD in a title defense. However, because Hunter may be turned babyface, they don't want to put Hunter in a position to be booed badly by an ECW crowd since it could be too fresh in people's minds when they try to turn him. Instead, the thought is Cena would get booed by nearly 100 percent, if not 100 percent, of the ECW crowd whether he enters as an "official" babyface or heel, and that could be used as a further impetus for his eventual change in attitude to full-fledged heel. A dark horse candidate is Edge, who could win the title at Backlash and headline against RVD at the ECW PPV.

Mick Foley and Terry Funk have both agreed to wrestle on the second ECW reunion PPV this summer for WWE. Funk has spoken out negatively about WWE in recent years. Foley appeared on last year's ECW PPV, but didn't wrestle.

Here's the story according to several sources in the know, close to both Austin and Hogan. Hogan badly wants a match against Austin, but Austin has been resistant to the idea for several reasons, including those listed above (risk to health, he's saved his money and doesn't need the headache, he doesn't like or trust Hogan). Vince McMahon offered Austin a seven-figure guaranteed payday to wrestle Hogan at WrestleMania, and Hogan has a deal in place where he automatically gets the highest payoff of anyone at WrestleMania. He'd have to waive that if McMahon needed to offer Austin obscene money to get him to agree to the match Hogan wants. Austin turned down the formal offer months ago.

The idea for Rob Van Dam to win the Money in the Bank match and use that to set up the ECW PPV main event was Paul Heyman's. Vince McMahon liked it and agreed to it, knowing it would give the PPV a natural main event that it otherwise didn't have.
Randy Orton, say key sources, was suspended for unprofessional conduct behind the scenes at WrestleMania. On the biggest show of the year, with so many dignitaries present, his violation of WWE policy (not dress code, but something more serious) was considered egregiously disrespectful, thus the 60 day suspension. He also joked about being fined often for his backstage conduct at the WrestleMania press conference, so this is not a first offense. Orton had used the "C" word to insult women behind the scenes before, which prompted fines.

Regarding this latest incident, one WWE source says, "He's lucky he didn't get fired. He has a lot of growing up to do. It was just stupid - disrespectful to the boys and the company." Orton is already unpopular in the locker room, especially among veterans who see so much potential in him, but also see him as having major maturity issues.

Says one source: "Undertaker despises him, and Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, and even Triple H have grown tired of his act. They barely tolerate him." Some wrestlers have a laid back attitude toward partying, but Orton's disrespectful treatment of women is what has turned many against him. The stunt at WrestleMania was also seen as stepping over the line.

Orton was originally scheduled to face Triple H at WrestleMania 21 in the main event, not Batista, but the slot was taken away from him due to his backstage conduct and overall attitude.

Bret Hart hung out at the bar after the Hall of Fame banquet. There were some who believed he'd just appear on camera, then leave promptly, but because he was treated well and felt comfortable with the circumstances, he decided to hob-nob with old pals for a while. Bret and Austin were seen chatting for a long time. He did leave Chicago before WrestleMania, though... Vickie Guerrero was said to appear happy at WrestleMania weekend hearing one story after another of how much affection Eddie Guerrero's colleagues had for him. WWE has continued to send Vickie the money that Guerrero was due on his contract each pay period along with merchandise bonuses... Coach is going to have more college sports duties in upcoming seasons, which could take him away from WWE more often than in the past. Coach is said to be much more excited about those duties than his wrestling lately. He and Styles have not clicked off air... Stacy was not asked to be at WrestleMania, nor did she offer. She is under contract through July, and isn't expected to seek a renewal as she explores options elsewhere in show business stemming from her fame gained from ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" series. The feeling within WWE was that putting her on the card just for the sake of her star value would take time away from someone they could invest in long-term and realistically wouldn't affect the buyrate...

Val Venis is scheduled for elbow surgery this week. He is expected to miss about two months of in-ring time... Mr. Ken Kennedy should be back on Smackdown later this month and ready to return to the ring in May... Harry Smith, the 6-5 son of the late Davey Boy Smith (British Bulldog), was signed to a WWE contract recently. He isn't scheduled to join WWE full time until he fulfills a few overseas commitments first. Smith is seem as a potential top talent, with similar physical qualities and athletic gifts as The Rock and Randy Orton, and with a great passion for wrestling... Kurt Angle will be given a few weekends off in coming months to give his body some extra rest, but he isn't scheduled to miss any Smackdowns or PPVs. Angle is not the type to ask for time off, so people with his best interests in mind are pushing for WWE to insist on it. Angle's gotten his personal life back in better order this year as he is back together with his wife after a period of separation and there is talk of expanding their family...

Rey Mysterio was given the WWE Title in part because he will give Smackdown something fresh on top that it hasn't had. Management believes Rey will draw at house shows as champion, so don't expect him to lose the title right away and become merely a short-term or transitional champion...

Undertaker is still said to be hot at John Laurenaitis for not notifying him that Bob Orton had tested positive for hepatitis before Bob was scheduled to blade in the ring in an angle with him. Taker has since tested negative, but Laurenaitis shouldn't have let it happen in the first place. There are at least two WWE personalities who appear on camera who have hepatitis and aren't written into any physical angles for fear that even a bloody nose or inadvertent cut could lead to a transmission to someone else in the ring...

The name of Jamal's new character, Umaga, may be based on a famously ferocious rugby player in the UK's All Blacks team, named Tana Umaga. He was the captain of his team until recent retirement. Early in his career, he got in trouble for head-butting a woman in a pub, or so the story goes. He also was vilified in the U.K. for destroying British captain Brian O'Briscoll with what was called an illegal spear tackle... Despite some suggestions within WWE, Vince McMahon is not budging on offering any kind of settlement with Lesnar to try to get him back. It's gotten personal, and McMahon appears unwilling to even consider backing down at this point...

Chris Benoit is contractually locked up with WWE long-term and tells friends now that he is a "lifer." He has been told an agent or trainer job awaits him when his in-ring days are over or cut back to just occasional special appearances... The explanation that fans cheering for Hunter are "fans of tradition" was something Vince McMahon and the creative team came up with in an attempt to "own" the boos Cena was getting rather than have viewers come up with their own explanation - such as "Cena sucks" or Cena isn't accepted as a main eventer...
Triple H's father had open heart surgery a few weeks back. Friends say Triple H used to be more critical of booking, but now has softened his stance and seems more a part of the program. "It's a pressure cooker and it takes it's toll on anyone, especially when you add a baby to the equation," says one source. "But when he steps away from the stress, he's the same guy he was ten years ago." Stephanie plans to bring their baby on the road in their custom bus as soon as possible so she doesn't miss much time at all from her duties as Head of Creative... Shane McMahon's wife gave birth to their second child last week... The Survivor Series will take place in Philadelphia, Pa. on Nov. 26...

Undertaker and Kurt Angle love wrestling each other and have great chemistry off-camera, which is why their matches earlier this year were particular strong... Jim Ross remains in charge of WWE payroll and is paid as a full-time employee. At this point, though, Styles has been told Ross will only be used for Saturday Night's Main Events and some bigger PPVs (perhaps Summerslam and WrestleMania)... WWE has scheduled two Supershow (Raw and Smackdown) tapings for July 7 in Philadelphia, Pa. and July 31 in East Rutherford, N.J. at Continental Airlines Arena... The April 3 Raw drew a 4.1 rating, disappointing the day after WrestleMania, but more understandable since it went head-to-head with the NCAA tournament finals...


Spoiler for 11/21/05 notes:
In this issue Dave writes about Eddy Guerrero’s life and tells some nice stories.

- The decision was made to give Eddy the World title as the main event match on the combined tapings on 11/13 in Minneapolis, and turn him heel in the process to work with Batista on his return

Not sure if that was still going to happen. Stephanie alluded to it on Raw, saying he was emotionally ready this time and would make the company proud.

As for the question of whether he would have been champion on the same day he passed away, that is one the McMahons will have to answer. I know it was the plan going into that day, but there is a good chance that the plan had changed to Orton.

- Eddy was seen as a “legend’ among the other wrestlers. Mark Copani (Mohammed Hassan) and Guerrero had an altercation a few months back on Smackdown. Copani, not knowing any better, told Eddy to stop using the camel clutch. When word got out on what he did, Copani was sat down and told, “Eddy Guerrero is a legend in this business. He grew up in the business. You don’t ever tell him anything. Do you even know who invented that camel clutch you’re doing.” Hassan said “The Shiek.” Hassan, who was being groomed as the top heel before things fell apart was told, “No, it was Eddy’s father. Don’t you ever question him again or you’ll never work in this company.

When UPN wanted the Hassan character off Smackdown, one of the reasons WWE killed the character off completely as opposed to moving him to Raw was because of how Mark Copani handled the situation. When his name comes up and you here wrestlers make cryptic remarks about the guy playing the role, some of that was because of those who knew, he had committed a major sin in mouthing off to someone as well liked as Guerrero.

- At this point, even though it is the match Hogan wants and the match the company wants, Hogan vs. Austin at Wrestlemania is less than 50%. Austin isn’t keen on doing the match. Where they are right now is they either have to find a way to convince him to do it or go in another direction.

- Benoit has talked with some people, including Noble, of late, about the prospects of being able to make a living outside WWE. Of course, Benoit’s prospects and Noble’s results are entirely different as Noble never went to TNA , and while he did get some Japan tours, he wasn’t able to get nearly as much work in Japan as Benoit would be able to.

The company will likely do everything it can to keep Benoit. The date we had on his contract expiring may have been wrong as others are saying the expiration date is next year, and they see him as someone who will be with the company for life.

- Sting has not returned company calls about appearing, so their feeling is he has no interest. Sting has expressed interest in participating in a DVD project.

- Regarding the Rock’s cryptic comments on Michaels a few weeks back, the heat actually dates back to 1985 when the Midnight Rockers were brought to Honolulu for a big show by Rock’s grandmother, who was the promoter at the time. 13 year old Dwayne was so wild he was looking for Michaels to take a swing at him because of how Michaels was behaving in the dressing room.

Most people know the story about political dealings in 1997 when Rock and HHH were on the rise. Another piece of the puzzle was when Vince made the decision to go with Rock as the opponent for Austin at Wrestlemania XV, Michaels (who was theoretically retired at the time due to a back injury) went to Vince and pushed hard for HHH to get the shot. When Vince turned it down, he then pushed for Foley to get the spot. He kept telling Vince, “Anyone but Rock,” but Vince had already made his decision.


Spoiler for 5/29/06:
WWE JUDGMENT DAY POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up: 139 (82.7%)
Thumbs down: 2 (01.2%)
In the middle: 27 (16.1 %)

BEST MATCH POLL
Chris Benoit vs. Fit Finlay: 121
MNM vs. London & Kendrick: 30
Rey Mysterio vs. JBL: 9

WORST MATCH POLL
Undertaker vs. Great Khali: 118
Jillian Hall vs. Melina: 21

Things are going crazy in the WWE.

With injuries and burnout affecting much of the roster, fights breaking out, Smackdown ratings plunging badly, yet house show business seemingly strong and ECW about to be launched with almost nothing finalized in plans, it can only be described as nobody knows what is going to happen next. Major booking plans change by the minute, and nobody knows what is going to happen in two PPV events that are just a few weeks away.

It was expected all week that an announcement would be made on 5/23 that the new ECW show would be signed for the Sci-Fi channel and debut on 6/13. With so much going on, things got crazy on the deal. As best we can tell, the announcement will likely be made before any of you read this. Some of the terms were not yet finalized. The show will air on Tuesday night, either at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., for one hour. Sci-Fi, after first agreeing to a 52 week commitment, started getting some cold feet on the project, and at last word had only committed to 12 episodes. Because of the WWE's exclusive TV deal with NBC Universal, and USA Network not interested in giving the show a good time slot, and Bravo expressing only mild interest, WWE has very little leverage in this deal. With so much in motion, the McMahon’s agreed to the trial run. Bonnie Hammer, who was a strong force in bringing WWE back to the USA Network is in charge of the Sci-Fi Channel and wants more WWE branded pro wrestling because she just wants ratings for the channel. Those underneath here were in an uproar over the decision, because they don't think pro wrestling fits within the theme of the station. Worse, when word got out from our web site report, the message board at the channel saw the hardcore Sci-Fi fans livid that they were going to add pro wrestling to the station. There is a feeling that the network needs to increase its ratings, and the final call, by Jeff Zucker, would be ratings vs. station theme. The belief is ECW would be, from the start, one of the highest rated shows on the network. It is also a genuine concern that the network would pressure ECW to run at least one Sci-Fi friendly storyline.

As of now, there is now Canadian TV deal, but this is expected to be worked on this week and there are said to be one or two potential players. The Fight Network, the 24-hour Canadian premium channel, has expressed interest. For many reasons, one of them being WWE likely doesn't want the network to succeed, I’d call it a long shot. ECW would immediately become the flagship for the network and be a huge subscription driver for the station. But its penetration at this point is not strong among mainstream fans as only a tiny percentage of Canadians subscribe at this point. TSN, which carries Raw, is said to have no interest in adding a new wrestling show. Still, TNA was very close to getting on TSN, with a deal in place, until it fell apart at the last minute.

As things stand, the first show will be from the Smackdown tapings on 6/13 in Trenton. The show will either air on a one or two hour tape delay, or go live. Live would be a significantly greater expense due to needing to purchase satellite time weekly, which isn't cheap. If the decision is made to go live, then ECW would be done in the arena after Smackdown, instead of before, as had been the plan. This would give them more leeway to do extreme things without having to worry about burning out the crowd for the Smackdown show that would follow.

If the show isn't done live, it would have to be taped most nights from 7-8 p.m., at least when shows are done on the East Coast. Being taped after Smackdown would be a different type of handicap, as fans would be tired from the two-hour" Smackdown taping, and at this point it would be a show with considerably less star power that follows.

At press time, there is still no confirmation of the roster other than the names that have already been talked about. We've heard Test being batted around as a potential top heel to face Rob Van Dam C.M. Punk and Mike Knox are the only developmental guys we've even heard whispers about as far as being, prominent, and neither of them are definite. Most of the developmental talent Paul Heyman would have likely built around, Armando Alejandro Estrada, Gunner Scott and Beth Phoenix, were just brought to Raw or Smackdown. WWE sources indicate the roster will be stronger than it sounds, and some people from Raw and ¬Smackdown will be added to the brand.

There has been talk that if the show goes live, then, because of the way McMahon thinks, the show will become more important because of the live pressure, than Smackdown. Even so, it is not expected on Sci-Fi to have anywhere near the audience Smackdown will have on a network. More McMahon involvement has both its pluses and minuses. The pluses are money becomes less of an object. Also, the politics of holding it back because of the potential ego issues if it is viewed as better than one or both of the existing shows isn't going to be an issue. The negative is, McMahon will be more hands on, and it will be the Vince McMahon vision of what ECW was.

Either way, any predictions right now are foolish. This isn't going to be a recreation of ECW. It can't be. Times are different. What was fresh then is passé now. The talent that was cool then is nostalgia now, and can help it get started, but can't be the stars six months from now. They may get off to a strong nostalgia sendoff, and that means nothing. And if they don't, it still means nothing. The only early key is they have to deliver strong enough first numbers to get a renewal and earn their way on to being a permanent part of the network. But the success or failure will be whether the new talent can carry the ball six months from now.

House shows will officially start II days after the first television, with shows on 6/24 at the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia and 6/25 in Elizabeth, PA. This becomes another issue. The old ECW generally ran two shows per week, and physically, even with copious painkiller usage, the type WWE would not allow today, that was all people working the style could handle. The guys are much older, much more broken down, and are going to have to do four nights per week. That is a bad decision on many levels, because that limits the one unique thing about the product, that guys would be willing and able to take more punishment than the stars of the other-brands. Instead, you've either got green guys who are young, or beaten up older guys, who, as a general rule, are far less talented and charismatic than those on Raw or Smackdown. But they will also be playing mostly smaller cities and in buildings that seat 1,000 to 2,000 people. In a sense, this, particularly in the Northeast where most of the shows are expected to be held, puts WWE in more direct competition with indies. But the reality is whatever little money is going to be made running house shows that draw 1,000 people isn't worth it to water down the style, or physically destroy the talent that much faster.

It is official that after One Night Stand, there will be a second PPV show added on 12/3. This means WWE will be promoting a Survivor Series show in Philadelphia, and come back seven days later with an ECW show, and two weeks after that run Armageddon with the Smackdown brand in Richmond, VA. With domestic PPV numbers down so significantly over the past two years, partially due to adding the extra shows, as well as UFC taking off this year and lighter weight boxing drawing more consistent numbers, both beating WWE so badly except for Mania, this is going to put the company in more competition with itself kind of way. ECW is also going to be viewed in its own way as direct competition with TNA, which, if ECW does succeed, can be a victim of its success. Even though there are different fan bases for everything, there is enough of an overlap that there is bound to be a market correction by the end of the year.

Although, as the late 90s showed, if wrestling becomes "in," a hot product can survive overexposure, at least for a little while.

According to a few source, Tommy Dreamer has already lost considerable power. Aside from being talent, his role is as the talent relations point person for the brand, reporting to John Laurinaitis. Independent wrestlers who have expressed interest have been repeatedly told that they are looking for guys at least 6-2, and preferably more than 250 pounds. Terry Funk and others have made a strong recommendation for Homicide, who may be the exception to that rule. But no offer has been made to him and he's believed to be under some sort of a TNA deal, although he was likely signed for a short-time frame deal that is soon to expire and he isn't happy there. With the exception of Rhino, all of the other main TNA wrestlers are signed for the long haul, so don't expect much movement from there.

Paul Heyman is the main creative force. But history tells us a major story. Heyman ultimately never gets along with management. He didn't get along with Verne Gagne. He didn't get along with anyone in WCW other than Kip Frye.

He was put on ice on several occasions in WWE when he was a member of the creative team, and never for poor job performance, but because of problems with management. It almost seems from the outside that it's more a when than and if a blow-up occurs and he's removed from power, which would then kill the only real link to ECW. But that ECW is dead and was buried five years ago. Anyone who expects it again will be disappointed in the end. But whatever the new product is, however the entertainment is reinvented, may still wind up as a viable ancillary business, adding to licensing opportunities and the like while costs for talent and touring will likely be kept down so whatever losses from touring, if people don't buy tickets six months from now, won't necessarily put it on death row.

As far as changes go, the only definite news is that the Chris Benoit vs. Dean Malenko match, planned as a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, will not be taking place. While Benoit is banged up and won't be on the show that is not the reason for the match being canceled. Heyman's idea, and it was approved, was to instead do a Benoit vs. Kurt Angle submission match. Angle was mad on 5/23 in Bakersfield when he got the word, but others felt Benoit was just as unhappy about his match with his mend being nixed. Benoit had several things promised to him that haven't been delivered and Malenko had gone into training for his return that was taken off the books. (Last night on The Law, Meltzer confirmed that that this match is also out as well)

Benoit will be out for an indefinite period for a combination of reasons.

WWE officials cite that his body is banged up, most notably a shoulder injury, but also say that professional burnout is a factor, and perhaps most important is that his wife Nancy is recovering from major neck surgery from Dr Lloyd Youngblood and needs to rest and is not allowed to lift a thing, and needs help at home. It's not expected to be a long-term absence.

No other matches are finalized on the PPV, which is now less than three weeks away. As mentioned here, there has been considerable talk of Tazz going to ECW as a co-host with Joey Styles as well as a coach to endorse the next generation UFC style gimmick fighter in the company. That is far from a definite and it's still considered better than 50% that he stays on Smackdown. If the move is made, Simon Dean (Mike Bucci) and Jonathan Coachman have been talked about as Michael Cole’s sidekick

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Wrestlemania 22 on 4/2 from the All-State Arena in Chicago, based on preliminary estimates, should end up as the third biggest pro wrestling PPV event of all-time.

The first estimates of 925,000 buys, for a show headlined by John Cena vs. HHH, Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton and Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels, released on 5/17, puts it slightly behind first estimates of Wrestlemania X-7 (950,000) and last year's Wrestlemania (940,000). With a $49.95 price tag (Austin vs. Rock was a $39.95 show),it will likely fall only behind last year's event as the biggest grossing pro Wrestling event in history.

Between the PPV revenue, live gate and merchandise, the total gross revenue for the event would be between $44 million and $49 million at this point. It's hard to make a more accurate early estimate, because such a high percentage of orders came from outside North America, and the PPV is priced fur lower in overseas markets.

On a worldwide basis, this would be the biggest PPV event so far this year, and would remain that way unless Oscar de la Hoya faces Floyd Mayweather Jr. or someone near that caliber in September, as has been talked about. In North America, it would be the second biggest of the year, behind de la Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga.

A few things should be noted about the estimate when it comes to some minor tricks. The WWE didn't release an estimate until seven weeks after the show. In most years, the first estimate came at the two week mark Thus you have a slightly highly artificial first number. Last year's first estimate was about four weeks after the show. Still, when all is said and done, the show should top one million buys, although its final listing in WWE's records (show records close as of the end of the fiscal year) will not reach that level. Because of greater international exposure, and international buys are slower in being tallied, it does have a shot at breaking the 1,040,000 record set by the Austin vs. Rock match on April 1, 2001, at the Astrodome in Houston, but most likely will wind up in third place. As constantly noted because this is such an important point that is usually ignored when comparing buy numbers, over the past three years, international buys for WWE PPV shows have exploded. For just the North American market, the show would still likely end up cracking the top 15 of all time, but would not hit the top ten.

Last year's show, headlined by HHH vs. Batista, is listed at doing 985,000 buys, which is actually the number that would have been recorded at a similar time after the show (May of that year) as this year's, so it looks to be down 6% worldwide.

Domestically, this year's show is estimated at between 582,000 and 600,000 at this stage of the game, down from 650,000 domestic and 335,000 overseas last year. The company had spent millions advertising the show in the UK and was hoping for 200,000 buys from that country alone. With the foreign advertising, one would suspect the company spent more money on advertising this event than any event in its history.

The 2001 number would be almost exclusively a domestic number, as it wasn't until 2004 when overseas started becoming a large percentage of PPV buys. In 2004, headlined by HHH vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels (although at the time of the show, the two biggest drawing matches on the show were Rock & Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair & Orton & Batista and Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg), the show did 885,000 buys at a similar period, which was approximately 681,000 in North America and 204,000 overseas.

In 2003, with a significantly lower percentage of overseas buys, the show headlined by Vince McMahon vs. Hulk Hogan and Angle vs. Brock Lesnar drew 560,000 buys, which would be the last time a Wrestlemania show drew a disappointing number of buys. It was also held in Seattle, because Safeco Field could put 54,000 fans in attendance. But that has been blamed for the low performance of that show (obviously it couldn't have been that Vince vs. Hogan wasn't a strong main event), and since then, you've seen Mania in smaller arena settings in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which don't have domed baseball/football stadiums. But this led to the show getting more mainstream publicity, plus with the local publicity, the higher than usual buy rate in a big market city. Also, the ability to charge a premium amount for tickets in a big market wound up even with far less fans attending, the actual ticket revenue wasn't all that much lower the past three years than in' Seattle. Next year they are attempting a combination. Detroit is a top ten market, but it also has a domed stadium, and works as a theme because it is the 20th anniversary of Wrestlemania III, held nearby at the Pontiac Silverdome. That theme is another reason why a Hulk Hogan vs. Steve Austin match would fit better next year than any future year as far as a symbiotic marketing strategy.

In 2002, headlined by HHH vs. Chris Jericho, but with the real top drawing match being Hogan vs. Rock, the show did 840,000, but that's with almost all the buys coming from North America. Five of the six Wrestlemania’s since 2001 would rank as the five biggest PPV events, in terms of buys, in wrestling history. Part of the reason is so many more homes had PPV capability. Wrestlemania was a huge deal on PPV once it hit the five million homes in the U.S. mark in 1987 for the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant match (which did about 400,000 buys, but by far the largest actual percentage of homes with PPV capability in history bought that show), through 1989, when the Hogan vs. Randy Savage match hit 650,000 buys, an all-time record that stood until the second boom period nine years later. Mania fell off greatly from 1991 to 1996, usually hovering between 300,000 and 400,000. The 1997 Mania, headlined by Undertaker vs. Sid, bottomed out at 237,000 buys, the level of a low rated "B" show by today's standards. That year there were at least five WCW events and one WWE event that outsold Mania in 1997. It appeared Wrestlemania as a name was dead as far as being far and away the show of the year.

But things turned around in 1998, largely due to the involvement of Mike Tyson as referee in the Michaels vs. Steve Austin match, with buys more than tripling from the prior year, at 730,000. Things never looked back and it has been the show of the year, by far, every year since that point. Numbers grew every year through 2001, when the popularity of WWE hit its peak with the Astrodome show.

While Mania has declined on PPV domestically, but in recent years, the decline in domestic buys has been more than made up for with record setting DVD sales. Last year's Mania show has been among the top 20 best selling DVDs every week since it's release more than one year ago, and this year's show is expected to be the biggest selling pro wrestling DVD in history.

Based on the latest company released estimates for the newer years and the original released estimates in most cases for the older years, here are the biggest PPV events in history:

1,040,000 - 4/1/01 Wrestlemania 17 (Rock vs. Austin) 985,000 - 3/31/05 Wrestlemania 21 (HHH vs. Batista)
925,000 - 4/2/06 Wrestlemania 22 (Cena vs. HHH)
885,000 - 3/14/04 Wrestlemania 20 (HHH vs. Benoit vs. Michaels)***
840,000 - 3/17/02 Wrestlemania 18 (Rock vs. Hogan)****
824,000 - 4/2/00 Wrestlemania 16 (HHH vs. Rock vs. Foley vs. Show) 800,000 - 3/28/99 Wrestlemania 15 (Austin vs. Rock)
770,000 - 7/22/0 Invasion (Booker T & Dudley’s & DDP & Rhyno vs. Austin & Angle & Undertaker & Kane & Jericho)
730,000 - 3/29/98 Wrestlemania 14 (Austin vs. Michaels/Tyson ref)
700,000 - 8/30/98 SummerSlam (Austin vs. Undertaker)
675,000 - 4/30/00 Backlash (Rock vs. HHH)*
665,000 - 1/20/02 Royal Rumble (Rumble/Jericho vs. Rock)**
650,000 - 12/28/97 Starrcade '97 (Hogan vs. Sting)
650,000 - 4/2/89 Wrestlemania 5 (Hogan vs. Savage)
650,000 - 1/24/99 Royal Rumble (Rumble, Rock vs. Foley)
636,000 - 8/21/05 Summerslam (Hogan vs. Michaels)
605,000 - 9/24/00 Unforgiven (Rock vs. Benoit vs. Undertaker vs. Kane)*
600,000 - 7/12/98 Bash at the Beach (Hogan & Rodman vs. DDP & Malone)
600,000 - 8/22/99 Summerslam (Austin vs. HHH vs. Foley, Ventura referee)

*Both of these buy rates were drawn by Austin returning after a long absence and not them main event of the show. The April 30, 2000, buy rate in many ways showed the peak of the Austin drawing power, as he pulled nearly a Wrestlemania level number for a "B" PPV and he didn't even wrestle on the show. It was Austin's first televised appearance, since neck surgery which at the time threatened his career
**The reason this was the most successful Rumble event ever, even more notable because WWE and DirecTV were at odds and DirecTV didn't air the event, was due to the incredible job of hyping the return of HHH after a long absence due to a tom quadriceps muscle
***Although this was the main event and stole the show from a match quality standpoint, polls before the show took place listed Rock & Foley vs. Flair & Orton & Batista as the biggest drawing match on the show, followed by Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. Even though the main event stole the show and is the most remembered thing on the card, at the time, it was probably only the third biggest drawing match on the show.
****HHH vs. Chris Jericho was put in the main event position on this show, but Hogan vs. Rock was clearly the most heavily advertised match and most responsible for the buys

Most times top draw on the list: Steve Austin (7), Batista (2), Mick Foley (4), HHH (4), Hulk Hogan (5), Shawn Michaels (2), Rock (6)

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The first of many releases from WWE Films, "See No Evil," opened to largely bad to awful reviews and overall decent business over its first weekend. The movie, put out by famed porn director Gregory Dark, with Kane playing Jacob Goodnight, a horror character based somewhat on his wrestling persona, closed at $4,581,233, good for sixth place, in its first weekend. At press time, the movie was at $4,958,575. Because it was released in only 1,273 theaters, its per screen average was third for the weekend behind the expected blockbusters "The Da Vinci Code" and "Over the Hedge," which got most of the weekend publicity. WWE pushed the third place figure hard on its television, and did qualify it by saying per screen average.

Most industry predictions were between $3 million and $4 million for the opening weekend, so it was slightly ahead, probably because of the uniqueness of its direct marketing to several million wrestling fans. The expectation is a major drop-off in week two. Although it appeared that there was a heavy ad budget, including heavy advertising on rival properties like Spike's Impact and UFC shows, largely purchased by New Line Cinema, the movie is expected to make back its original investment of $8 million by WWE when you figure in international distribution and the DVD market, but doesn't look to be hugely profitable. It was interesting to note that in all advertising purchased on non¬-WWE programming, the fact it was a WWE film and the name Kane as the star were not pushed.

Luckily movie economics have changed, because with tremendous inflation, the movie grossed less in the first weekend than "No Holds Barred," a Hulk Hogan vehicle that Vince McMahon produced in 1989, which McMahon has noted on many occasions was a huge money loser.

New Line didn't screen the movie in advance for critics, which was a sign right off the bat they didn't have confidence in the reviews. Horror movies are usually aimed at teenagers, usually don't do well in reviews, and the movie didn't do badly when it came to actual audience response in some places. Response from Observer readers who attended indicated the audiences they saw it with were generally not happy about it, with many making note of people walking out, even though it was only 80 minutes long. WWE should be commended for strong marketing on its television, which fueled whatever level of success this had, particularly the "May 19th" advertising campaign.

Rotten Tomatoes, the web site that tabulates movie reviews, had this at 0% positive reviews, which is not unprecedented; but even the worst movies usually get 20% good reviews, as many major newspapers even gave it an "F" rating. It appeared the big game was how cleverly reviewers could destroy it, such as, "Assuming there are no other credit cookies the final image in See No Evil is a dog urinating in an eye socket. There couldn't be a better way to describe the experience of watching this film," wrote Mark Pfeiffer in Reel Times. Or, "As shallow as a toilet bowl and twice as rank as its usual contents," wrote Nick Schager in Slant Magazine. Virtually everyone in what was essentially a cast of good looking unknowns, were panned, as were Dark and writer Dan Madigan (a long-time member of the WWE writing team).

The company has one more movie to be released this year, the John Cena movie, "The Marine." Even though that movie was the first one shot, it was the second in release because it was said to be the weaker of the two, which certainly doesn't bode well for it. However, with Cena as the star, it has the stronger marquee attraction. It also loses the novelty and curiosity aspect with each successive release, unless the studio actually turns out quality films, although like everything WWE-related, Vince McMahon's personal vision of quality isn't usually in line with most, and is more aiming for a low level niche to begin with. The WWE's success in books, through the roof early on and then dwindling down, is likely to happen to this genre as well. The difference is many of the early books were quite good, although a few were awful. I don't know that they are going to luck into a "Have a Nice Day" surprise when it comes to movies. But the company looks to be steering more in the direction of made-for- TV movies for the USA Network for next season using its talent, which at least guarantees, since the network is buying the movie, profitability. We've also seen how that is likely to turn out. When WCW Nitro was at its hottest, the company produced a few TV movies for TNT. The first one drew incredible ratings, the highest movie the network had ever produced, but after that, things dwindled down quickly. Of course, WCW itself dwindled down greatly in popularity in record time.

Glen Jacobs did a ton of media to promote the movie, attempting to stay as much in character as possible, although some stories noted his college background, interest in international politics and that he was a small college basketball star in his other lifetime. Several outlets were also critical of New Line for hiding the porn past of Dark. Lion's Gate publicity talked about Dark's degrees ¬from Stanford and NYU and video work with Britney Spears and Snoop Dog, but never mentioned his 13 years as one of the best known porn producers in the country.

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Here is a more detailed eye-witness account of what happened on 5/15 during the filming of the SummerSlam commercial between Booker T and Batista.

There was apparently an underlying issue between the two, which neither would talk about. There has been speculation this stems from the problems Melina had with Sharmell on the Australian tour, which led to the guys giving up their final night in Australia for wrestlers' court to sentence Melina for her behavior, although Booker has told friends it was Batista's attitude that caused it, as he perceived, and still does, that Batista feels like he's superior to the rest of the guys and perceives the only people he respects are the top guys like HHH and Ric Flair.

As said by Booker on the WWE web site, it did have to do with his belief that Batista didn't respect the history of the business, but the belief is there was something personal that had gone down, including Booker's claim that Batista said things directly to him that he took as being told he was nothing but a jobber, and in the course of the argument, Batista told Booker that if he didn't like it, they could settle it, and he could take him out at any time.

Batista hadn't been around much in months since he had been rehabbing his surgically repaired triceps and his tom lat. Booker felt that Batista had been bragging about what a big draw he was, while the rest of the guys didn't like it because the Smackdown guys felt they weren't earning any more money last year than they did the year before. Overall, Smackdown business was up from a year ago, but there are a lot of factors involved with that, including merchandise for the top guys, international touring, and the more direct appeal to the Hispanic market.

When Batista came to the commercial shoot, it was said he only went up to certain guys to shake their hand, which were top guys and Fit Finlay. For better or for worse, given locker room etiquette, the guys he didn't come to, who went to him, some of them felt that was a slight, which probably would have meant nothing in the long run except things quickly compounded. Anyway, major rule of thumb if you are in a WWE locker room-walk up to every person there and introduce yourself the first time, and every other time, shake everyone's hand. Apparently, Booker was one of those and felt Batista was being a big shot and had no respect for business and cut a promo on him. He may have brought up the article from the U.K. where Batista, when he was still on Raw, cut down Smack down and saying the wrestlers didn't work as hard and the performance of some of them sickened him. The only thing we were told directly is the two argued, when Batista told Booker he could take him out at any time, Booker responded by saying why not try right now and step into an empty room, close the door behind us and go for it.

There were a lot of underlying negative feelings when he came over. Things went back and forth because Batista's first program was with JBL, and Batista confided in Eddie Guerrero that he felt JBL was sandbagging him in their program that didn't click. During the argument back-and-forth, which Booker was getting the better of, Batista apparently insinuated he was a draw and pointed to Smackdown ratings going in the toilet since he left. The worst part of that is Batista is 100% correct as far as the timing went. You can argue the reasons, but they are much lower now than when he went down for the injury as champion. It wasn't the full reason and was probably only a minor factor at best as compared with the pre-emptions and lame duck status on so many of the stations. Even when Batista was there, Rey Mysterio has been the big draw on Smackdown for the past several months. But he was pushed as the top babyface and his being out was a factor and didn't help any. But you can imagine how that plays in front of the rest of the guys, worse, because deep down the ones who pay attention to ratings know there is something factual to the statement.

There were people who tried to talk Batista out of it, not just because either or both could get hurt needlessly and both are old enough to where they should know better and not be fighting. Plus with Batista, given his triceps injury, after three operations, he was risking his career over something stupid.

By that point he appeared to have felt he had to save face because everyone was watching. At the same time, before they ended up fighting, when they were just arguing, it was said Batista should have let it go, but wouldn't, which is one of the reasons he was the one viewed negatively. Mysterio was said to be the last person Batista talked with before the guys left the two of them alone in the room, and he tried to talk Batista out of it.

The first fight saw the two actually in a room. Everyone left and they shut the door. Booker's version was that he put his hand on the doorknob to close it, and got sucker punched. Booker came back and was doing some real damage. People heard the sound of fists meeting flesh, and after a very short period of time, maybe 30 seconds, the door was opened and people saw Booker on top pounding on Batista, and the wrestlers broke it up.

Batista was screaming to let it continue, so they did, and Booker was again getting the better of it. Batista in the second round grabbed Booker's braids and tried to throw knees from the clinch like you'd see in a Muay Thai style fight, well, aside from the fact you can't pull someone's hair but you can drive their head down and throw knees up, but the best they could do was hit Booker's elbow. Booker was taunting him, saying, "Is that all you've got" and "Your hitting my elbows." One version is Sharmell kicked Batista low and he went down, which may have been a factor in the later Melina-Sharmell incident. When it was pulled apart by Angle, JBL, Finlay and others, it was said that was when Batista got a good punch in, described as a sucker punch, which was the punch that swelled Booker's eye.

After that, it was said Booker was really furious and vowing that some time and some place he'd get him back, saying, "I'm an OG," (slang for Original Gangsta), while Batista claimed Booker was a cancer to the locker room. Booker said, in front of everyone, that if anyone thinks he's a bad influence in the locker room to say it, and nobody would. Batista was apparently surprised that none of the wrestlers agreed with him. The general feeling is Booker is a laid back guy who doesn't bother anyone, and has no reputation for starting trouble. Booker looked at Lashley in particular and asked him, and Lashley said to Booker that he'd always helped him out and given him good advice. Sharmell also cut a promo on Batista somewhere in there.

There was a general feeling coming from several different sources that Batista deserved what he got. Even people you would expect to back Batista were taking Booker's side in this. I don't want to say that everyone now believes it was real, because there are still skeptics, but there are very few of them at this point. We're told there were no plans to book these two against each other in a program before hand (of course, if it was an angle, McMahon wouldn't let anyone know ahead of time so that would have to be the case). We're also told there are no plans to do so now, either. I guess time will tell on that one, but for whatever reason, there really hasn't been all that much interest in this past the minor curiosity stuff for a day. While the two did do a personal appearance together and even posed for photos on the company's web site and have agreed to put it past them, the bitterness definitely still remains.

Booker is more liked generally as "one of the guys" and Batista is more seen as a guy who was handpicked for stardom as opposed to having earned it, and is more mends with the top guys. Still, with the exception of people in OVW, and they more didn't like Batista for what he said about OVW after leaving than anything he did when he was there, I’ve heard few people negative about Batista as a person. Those in OVW only recall Batista once getting into it with another wrestler, and that was an incident with the late Robbie Dicks (Robbie D), where the story is Dicks, who was really a junior heavyweight, got the better of the situation, but Dicks had a rep for being a tough guy and was a star college wrestler.

He was sort of handed it, but the truth is, it was more handed by the fans. The fans chose him over Randy Orton, who was really the hand picked guy.

They paid big on PPV from Survivor Series through Backlash last year to see his chase of HHH. But with limited ability in the ring, not that many years experience, and less than superlative promos (although his promos by no means are bad and in my opinion, get the job done), you can see where some jealousy would be possible, particularly since Batista has been outspoken on his own opinions. There is a weird caste system about who is "allowed" to speak candidly without reprisals, and who isn't, and Batista is at the pecking order level where he should be, but because of his relative lack of inexperience, there were underlying problems in people's minds because of it.

Judgement Day News

There was a lot of news behind-the-scenes relating to WWE Judgement Day, which as a show itself, was one of those shows that looked like one to skip, on paper, but delivered far more than expected.

The 5/21 show at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix was boosted by a sellout crowd announced at 15,421 fans, and featured several major plot twists, both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.

The original plan for the main event was for JBL to win the World title in the main event from Rey Mysterio. An angle suggestion was made, apparently involving Chavo Guerrero interfering, for the title change to be moved to a Smackdown episode, most likely on 5/30 in Portland. Mysterio retaining the title on this show was finalized at a meeting toward the end of last week, but at that point the plan was still for Guerrero to interfere and cause the title change on Smackdown. One of the reasons Mark Henry and Great Khali were put over Mysterio so strong, and JBL was going to, was that since Mysterio was going to leave and have knee surgery done, the feeling was to treat it like a guy "leaving a territory" and to put over a few heels on the way out. When he returned, his character would be freshened up and he'd rebound from those losses. Of course, doing the Guerrero angle would seem to postpone the surgery, although it also could be that Guerrero could "injure" him as the reason. Right now, that appears off. For reasons that haven't been said, the decision was made this past week to keep the title on Mysterio for the time being. The speculation as to why the decision was made looks to have been two things. The first is JBL has a serious back injury and needs time off, and his injury is now more pressing than Mysterio’s. JBL is expected to be out for three months due to chronic knee and back problems, so his title run was canceled for now. The idea going around is that Bobby Lashley would get the U.S. title and then JBL would be "injured" in that match and leave.
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Changing the finish on this show, which as noted last week, was planned for more than a week ahead of time, had nothing to do with the JBL injury. Changing the plans to not include JBL winning, as well as his dropping the U.S. title, at least partially had to do with his injury, but there were other factors involved in the decision to keep the title on Mysterio. Nobody really expected Mysterio to draw as champion since there is still the mentality about small guys and all that, but he got the title because the storyline they were working meant he would have to get it at some point this year. A funny thing happened. While ratings are down, badly now to the point we are now at Thunder levels, it is still the Mysterio segments that carry whatever somewhat anemic ratings there are most weeks. While Smackdown sold out in San Diego that was his hometown. This show in Phoenix doing a sellout and a crowd pretty much unprecedented for a Smackdown only PPV, as well as gates post-Mania being generally above expectations led to the realization that Mysterio was drawing. Of course, the way he's been booked on TV has likely done more harm than good to that, but that was done because they expected him to take time off. With all the other injuries, it appears he is not going to take time off for at least the next two months. Smackdown hasn't had a champion who has drawn at the house shows in some time. They are clearly starting the Guerrero angle, and I just can't see Mysterio vs. Guerrero being a title program. But with JBL at least off house shows, if not completely out, for a while, there is a terrible death of top heels. I just can't see them giving the title to Booker, although he'd probably be no worse at being champ than anyone else, and. don't even want to think about Mark Henry in that spot. Randy Orton is coming back in a few weeks, but I just don't see them putting the title on him right away, even if the cold business move would be to do so, just because I think he's going to have to show he's learned and earn it. We're told there are no plans to take the title off Mysterio, and the plans are to book him as champion at least through the Great American Bash (7/23 in Indianapolis). Of course, plans change on a weekly basis with so much going on behind-the-scenes.

The show ended with Mysterio having pinned JBL, and Guerrero in the ring congratulating him. Perhaps they were afraid in the market that Guerrero would be cheered if he turned on Mysterio, because Phoenix fans think of Eddie Guerrero as a home town wrestler, even though he only lived there about two weeks before his death. Vickie Guerrero was also at the show, going over a script with Chavo for whatever direction this is going, as I guess she'll be involved. She has still not sold her home in Phoenix, but it is for sale and she is planning now on moving back to El Paso, where she grew up.

The other big story on the show came out of the opener, where WWE's best hope for a traditional tag team in years, MNM, consisting of Johnny Nitro & Joey Mercury, managed by Melina, split up and went at it after losing the tag titles to Paul London & Brian Kendrick Later in the show, after Melina was embarrassed two more times, she went crazy and slapped Teddy Long. This led Long to "fire" both Melina and Nitro.

While the angles were all well done, on the surface it appears to make no sense. Mercury is the guy who does most of the match layout, and is really the brains and glue holding the tag team together, even though he's the least charismatic of the three. Due to his size and style, he will likely flounder as a single. Melina has star potential, even though she's clearly hit a major divot in the road as she's rubbed a lot of the locker room the wrong way. For whatever this is worth, the talk is that she has developed an ego and doesn't work well with the other women. Nitro has heat, apparently for being tight with her. While this team had more potential, in many ways this is reminiscent of the Bodydonnas with Sunny. Sunny got heat with everyone and the team got dropped. But away from the unit, both former Bodydonnas went nowhere because they had so much more star potential as a tag than as singles.

The reasoning behind it is Mercury is being sent to rehab and will be off TV and the road indefinitely. With Melina and Nitro having so much heat in the Smackdown locker room, they are going to be taken off the road for the time temporarily. When they return, they will be on Raw as a singles act. There had been a long-term vague plan to do this maybe two years down the road, thinking eventually Nitro managed by Melina could be a top heel pairing, this was terribly premature, but under the circumstances, the decision was made to do it now.

To me, unless the decision is made not to use Mercury any longer, or just as a jobber, because inevitably, that's what he'll be on his own (originally, even though they were a unit in OVW, when WWE planned to bring them up, they were going with Chris Cage as Nitro's partner and the main reason it didn't happen was Cage suffered a tom pec at the time they were bringing them up), there are other ways to work around it. MNM, like the Spirit Squad on Raw, have the ability to be in major programs high on the card as tag champions, but somewhere along the way they were phased down. Anyway, the feeling is because the hand dealt the company, there was no other way it could be handled.

The break-up of the team leaves London & Kendrick with only Kid Kash & Jamie Noble as the makeshift Pitbulls copy tag team, as challengers. Gymini, who could have been set for the role, although would not have been effective in it, has one member injured.

The other ballsy booking move was putting Great Khali over stronger than anyone in probably 15 or so years, maybe dating back to Undertaker's arrival, where he destroyed Dusty Rhodes. Khali took no bumps (for the better), sold very little, and pinned Undertaker after a chop to the head and a kick to the face. Khali stood up and put his foot on Undertaker's chest. Nobody in the building, or watching on TV, thought it was the finish. Undertaker did no post-match sit-up. The explanation was that Vince McMahon recognized he screwed up with Big Show, when it came to booking him like Andre the Giant, a level many predicted for show that he never achieved, and was determined to do it right with Khali. Of course, the negative so many have is that once people see how bad Khali is, they'll have wasted the push on someone who won't have legs at the top. It was pretty well conceded that having Undertaker beat him would have killed him right away, and Undertaker's character can survive a loss. But the ending was flat live. People have seen Undertaker survive so much, and for him to lay down after such a weak finishing sequence and without even being covered (Khali doesn't get up and down well, which is another reason he didn't even take one bump), was a shock, but not an "Oh My God" shock but a "this is bs." shock, particularly because to the live audience, he laid in the ring without moving for several minutes. Through camera angles, lifts in boots, destroying top faces and not having him sell, thus far the Khali experiment, at least for this night, seemed to work, in that the crowd was intrigued by the match, and didn't die even during the many moments where Khali tried to do something and it was cringe-worthy bad. By no means did they tear down the house, but it took a tremendous performance by Undertaker just to take it out of negative stars. Undertaker and Khali were rehearsing the match, move-¬by-move, in the afternoon. They brought a very thick air mattress into the ring for Undertaker to bump on, as they were that concerned about Khali not dropping him safely. In the end, Khali didn't even do his neck hanging tree slam, and they wouldn't risk anything more than a chop to the top of the head and a kick as the finishing sequence.

Overall, the strength of the show, aside from the Benoit-Finlay match which was just a classic old-school hardass match, was the writing. Everything flowed together and everything seemed to have a purpose by the end of the night. It wasn't overbooked for overbooking sake, and even the bad finishes were saved by good post-matches. You don't find a lot of WWE shows where you can say that.

A. Matt Hardy pinned Simon Dean in the dark match. Neither TNA nor WWE are airing a live pre-game show with matches, and instead both are doing pre-taped studio shows on the PPV channel in the final 30 minutes.

1. Paul London & Brian Kendrick beat Johnny Nitro & Joey Mercury to win the WWE tag titles in 13:43. They tried to pace this like a Rock & Roll Express vs. Midnight Express match. No doubt Nitro & Mercury were taught tag team wrestling in OVW by studying those exact matches. London threw Kendrick over the top rope and he flip dived on both MNM members. London missed a high' crossbody and they got heat on him. Kendrick made the hot tag. London tagged in after heat on Kendrick, getting a great near fall with an Oklahoma side roll on Mercury. London did a cool spot where he did his dropsault, dropkicking Nitro off the apron and landing with a splash on Mercury in the same move. Finish saw Nitro holding London and Mercury ran toward him. London escaped and Mercury collided with Nitro, who fell on Melina. In the ring, London did a sunset flip on Mercury and then rolled one more time, into a folding press. Melina started browbeating Mercury for losing, then shoved him and finally slapped him. Nitro blindsided Mercury and pounded on him, but Mercury made a good comeback Melina went to kick Mercury in the head, but kind of missed. Melina ended up kicking a reflow. Teddy Long came out and I think he was bumped at one point. I think it was way premature, like a year minimum, to break up the team, but it was done great. ***1/2

2. Chris Benoit beat Fit Finlay in 21:10. Loud "Benoit" chants at the start, due to the Eddie Guerrero connection. This was a classic style match, worked like an old-school 70s style match'. They did a 90 second collar-and-elbow tie-up both inside and outside the ring. Finlay told the ref he was poked in the eyes (was he facing Chuck Liddell or something?) and as Benoit was distracted by the ref, Finlay took over. Finlay did a move where he sat on the mat, pulled on both of Benoit's arms while using his feet to push down on Benoit's head. Benoit came back with three German suplexes but missed a diving head-butt. Benoit did a baseball slide, kicking a chair into Finlay's ribs. He followed with a diving head¬butt to the ribs for a near fall. Benoit was bleeding from the mouth. Finlay used a chicken wing/dragon sleeper combination. He also did a few kneedrops that looked far too believable. After a German suplex on the floor by Benoit, and the three amigos inside the ring, Benoit got the submission with the cross face. ****

3. Jillian Hall pinned Melina in 4:18. The ref gave Nitro the boot before the match started. Instead of doing the usual women's stuff, both tried to do a men's style match. They weren't given time and were in a tough position at their level trying to wrestle and follow the previous match. Better than expected. Hall won with a sunset flip, but Melina's hand was on the ropes for the pin. After the match; Kristal Marshall was interviewing Melina. Melina blew her cool and attacked Marshall, but Marshall beat Melina up as well. You know things are bad when you lose three times in the same night. *1/4 .

4. Gregory Helms pinned Super Crazy in 9:55 to retain the cruiserweight title. Crazy was one of the most popular wrestlers on the show. This match, in this position, would have died in a lot of cities, but was strong here. When Crazy did a la magistral, Tazz called it a Bandido. Maybe it is somewhere. Nick Patrick blocked Crazy doing a tope, so he sprung off Patrick's back with a flip dive to the floor. There was a loud "ECW" chant. Crazy then went in the comer with ten punches and people counted in Spanish, which they haven't done in five years. Well, except at the last ECW show. Crazy did a dropkick off the top for a near fall, but missed a moonsault Helms missed a shining wizard; Helms did all kinds of versions of neckbreakers, including a blockbuster off the ropes for a near fall. Man, of all people to steal Buffs finisher. Helms won with a power bomb with his feet on the ropes. **3/4

Melina and Nitro were complaining to Teddy Long about pretty much everything. In the heat of passion, or something, Melina slapped Long in the face. He fired both of them.

They showed Anthony Robles in the crowd. Robles is the Phoenix high school wrestler with one leg that we've written about a few times. They made a big deal about his winning two state titles and a national title. He is the first person with a disability of his type ever to win a high school national championship. Robles, who is going to attend Arizona State University on a wrestling scholarship, will be featured this week on ABC World News Tonight as the show's Person of the Week He has started to get some national pub over the last week with mentions on ESPN, CNN and appearing on Fox & Friends.

5. Mark Henry beat Kurt Angle via count out in 9: 10. Angle did a somersault bodyblock off the middle rope and looked to just about land on his head. This wouldn't be good for anyone, but he's the last guy who needs that. This match was better than their Rumble match. Match was fair, but post-match was pretty good and saved it. Angle reversed a powerslam attempt into a DDT for a near fall. Henry kicked out of the Angle slam. Angle kicked out of a powerslam. They tried to tell the story that Angle, with his ribs all taped up, came back too early. Henry squashed him into the post on the floor, and Angle was counted out. Count out finishes don't go over too well these days. Angle came alive in the post-match, with a low blow and five chair shots, and an ankle lock on the floor. Angle gave Henry an Angle slam on the English announcers table. The table didn't break, and Henry just slid off, but the table wound up destroyed anyway. Angle finished things up with a wicked chair shot to the top of the head. **1/4

6. Booker T pined Bobby Lashley in 9:15 to win the King of the Ring. Crowd was also more into Lashley than most crowds have been lately. At one point Sharmell grabbed Lashley's leg so he couldn't run and spear Booker. Lashley got a near fall using the Oklahoma Stampede. Booker messed up an ax kick for a near fall. After a spear by Lashley, Sharmell distracted the ref. Finlay came out and hit Booker with a shillelagh. What, you were expecting him to hit Booker with a mini? This led to an ax kick and the pin. Post-match saw Booker put the crown on and go to sit in the big throne, but Lashley speared him out of and over the chair. **1/2

7. Great Khali pinned Undertaker in 8:31. Mostly Undertaker selling. He'd come back with punches 10 the body which Khali would register, but never go off his feet. Khali's missed punches are the stuff of legend. Some of the worst stuff you'll see. Some of his offense looked decent, and some looked terrible. Khali was horrible, but the crowd was into the spectacle and accepted it. Khali sold a flying shoulderblock by falling into the ropes and being tied up, so they taught him Andre's famous sell spot when Andre could no longer get up and down. Undertaker threw a few punches before Daivari released Khali. Khali used a chop and a kick and it was over. ½*

8. Rey Mysterio pinned JBL to keep the WWE title in 15:56. Not the caliber of what you expect from a WWE title match, but still good. I’m presuming JBL's physique changing for the worst is due to his back problem making him unable to train. Crowd was super hot for Mysterio and JBL seemed like he was loving the easy heeling. Mysterio's wife Angie Gutierrez was at ringside and was made into a pretty prominent part of the match. Too prominent, unless they are going somewhere. JBL kept playing to her for easy heat, and all I could think of was they must be booking her to have an affair with Chavo. Hopefully, their marriage is in better shape than Kevin Sullivan's was if they're going in that direction. JBL threw Mysterio into the ring steps and Mysterio was bleeding. I was really surprised JBL didn't rip up the top of Mysterio's mask because it was kind of useless to bleed heavy when you couldn't see it. JBL mocked Eddie's dance and three amigos. He dropped Mysterio with a fallaway slam on the floor. Mysterio came back and went for a bronco buster, but JBL kicked him low. Nick Patrick took a bump and JBL used a power bomb. Charles Robinson ran in, but Mysterio kicked out. JBL punched Robinson. That's a sequence I haven't seen 100 times yet this year. JBL grabbed a chair, but Mysterio kicked the chair into JBL's face, hit the 619 and then the frog splash, and got the fall. Chavo came in to congratulate Mysterio with huge chants for "Eddie." Good match and they sent everyone home on a big high. ***

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There was bad news for WWE with a far lower than expected first estimate on Backlash. The 4/30 show from Lexington, headlined by John Cena vs. HHH vs. Edge and Vince & Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels & God, drew a current estimate of 212,000 buys, which would probably translate to between 130,000 and 135,000 buys in North America for a show that had high TV viewership of Raw promoting it and for a product that was drawing at the house shows during the month. Not only that, but because of Vince wrestling, it had a far stronger promotional push than for a usual "B" show.

This result is a lesson being told by the public that will no doubt soon be forgotten, like most lessons the public tells promoters. We did a poll before the show and it showed a large percentage of regular viewers were skipping' specifically because of the angle being pushed with the God deal, and if there is a definition of an angle turning off more than it turned on, and this is probably the best modern example of it. Other shows have done weak PPV numbers, but they were shows with weak attractions and expected to do weak numbers. For a show as heavily pushed as it was, that number is terrible, so I guess God did have the last laugh in the end.

It's down 24% from where last year's Backlash was at the same time, and that's with less international homes cleared and a slightly lower percentage of international buys. That show featured Batista vs. HHH and Hulk Hogan & Shawn Michaels vs. Mohammed Hassan & Daivari match.

Some other updated PPV numbers. Vengeance from last year is at 245,000 buys, No Mercy is at 230,000, Taboo Tuesday is at 245,000, Survivor Series is at 400,000 and both Armageddon and New Year's Revolution are at 335,000. Armageddon, with the Undertaker vs. Orton Hell in a Cell was way above expectations and was well ahead of the prior year.

All of the shows in 2006 are down from the levels they were at during the same period in 2005. Last year's Elimination Chamber did 365,000 buys for Revolution. No Way Out is down a little from last year, and last year's number wasn't good. Mania is also down slightly.

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Raw on 5/22 did either a 3.6 or a 3.7 rating, a little down from usual levels. The number had‘to be disappointing because they did a show long build for the HHH turn. We'll have complete details next week

A.M. Raw on 5/21 did a 1.1 rating.

The 5/20.replays, of UF and Impact both did 0.6 ratings.

Smackdown on 5/19 drew a 1.9 rating, one of the lowest in the history of the show. The decline is because about 25% of the country aired the show on Saturday, including many major markets, due to other sports programming. Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to these ratings, because Smackdown has been pre-empted numerous times in just as many big markets as it was this past week, and almost never drawn a number like this (it did in its early weeks on Friday, but that was because it hadn't built back its audience, but at no other time in its history were numbers even close to this level), is this. Who has been drawing the ratings and carrying Smackdown for the past few months? How was that person booked the past few weeks, particularly the week before this show? Of the major markets, look at the one he is strongest in, Los Angeles, and look at how the show did. Granted, it was in a different time slot, but it's that same slot it's been moved to many weeks of late while still delivering numbers. I don't know that it's permanent, but a ton of regular viewers across the board in the major urban centers as you'll see by the ratings market-by-market, did not watch this week.

The show did a 2.0 in New York (2.3 for Mysterio vs. Kane), 0.3 in Los Angeles (0.6 for Mysterio vs. Kane; also should be noted the Benoit & Scott vs. Finlay & Booker finish drew an 0.0, the first goose egg in a major market in history-this was out of the normal time slot and went against the first 15 minutes of the Impact replay, and I can guarantee the Impact replay did a lot better than 0.0), 3.9 in Chicago (4.9 for Mysterio vs. Kane), 1.4 in Philadelphia (2.2 for Mysterio vs. Kane (this aired 10:30-12:30 on Saturday night), 2.1 in SF (2.6 for Mysterio vs. Kane), 1.7 in Boston (2.3 for Mysterio vs. Kane), 1.8 in DC (2.0 for MNM & Melina vs. London & Kendrick & Hall-this aired Saturday 10-midnight), 2.4 in Dallas (Saturday 7-9 p.m., 2.8 for Mysterio vs. Kane), 2.3 in Detroit (2.7 for Mysterio vs. Kane), 2.7 in Atlanta (3.2 for the Tatanka promo) and 1.3 in Houston (Saturday afternoon 1-3 p.m., 1.9 for Tatanka promo). Boy have they killed Smackdown dead in Houston, which is the fault of the local lame duck station that is basically attempting to do so, not WWE.

In the segment-by-segment, based on the major markets and correlated nationally, the MNM & Melina vs. London & Kendrick & Hall match gained 400,000 viewers. Lashley vs. Jared Steel lost 235,000 viewers. Benoit & Scott vs. Finlay & Booker gained 345,000 viewers. Henry vs. Hardy gained 138,000 viewers. Mysterio vs. Kane gained 414,000 viewers.

Ultimate Fighter on 5/18 drew a 1.90 rating and 2.2 million viewers. It is the best rating in the history of the show without either a live fight special or a live Raw show lead-in. To show the power of the show, it is now doing double the rating that the last shows of season two did once Raw moved to USA.

Raw on 5/15 drew a 3.90 rating (3.77 first hour; 4.02 second hour; 4.86 million viewers and 917,000 (3.5 rating) in Males 18-34. Top demo was against male teenagers with a 4.9.

In the segment-by-segment, the Cena & RVD vs. HHH, Benjamin & Masters match gained 610,000 viewers from start to finish. The second segment is usually a gainer from people who show up late, but this was far better than usual build. Spirit Squad’s Johnny and Nicky vs. Goldust & Snitsky lost 97,000 viewers, and that is not usually a segment that loses. I’d bet money that it wasn’t that match that lost it but the preceding “See No Evil” video piece No. 1. The Foley, Funk and Edge segment with the promo and angle gained 720,000 viewers to the show’s peak rating of a 4.55. That’s obviously great growth. Striker vs. Eugene plus “See No Evil” piece No. 2 lost 842,000 viewers, which is probably close to record levels this year. Umaga’s squash and a few interviews gained 48,000 viewers. The “See No Evil” piece No. 3 and beginning of the Michaels vs. Kenny main event lost 286,000 viewers. Since obviously, as the next quarter shows, people did not click off during the main event, that speaks volumes for how many did, but all that stuff is a necessary evil. The overrun with Michaels vs. Kenny with the sledgehammer and Vince cradling Shane ended up gaining 926,000 viewers to a 4.41 rating.

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Beside JBL and Benoit, there is another headliner injury to headline talent that will affect current booking. Michaels had an MRI done on 5/23, which explains the injury angle done on Raw the night before, to check on his left knee, which had been giving him a lot of problems. As was expected, he does need surgery. At press time we don’t know the nature of knee surgery, but it was, before the MRI, expected to be arthroscopic surgery. They were hopeful the surgery wouldn’t keep him out of the Vengeance PPV on 6/25 since the show is being built around he and HHH reuniting against the Spirit Squad…Although not yet official, there is a good chance Masters will be taken off the road for an indefinite period of time. That may explain why he was beaten so convincingly to the STFU to Cena on Raw. No reason was given for this, other than we were told the first guess would be the correct guess…To the surprise of exactly nobody, the CW network officially announced Smackdown for Friday at 8pm on its fall schedule. That had been talked about by the execs in the network as a lock from the day the announcement was made about UPN and WB merging…There was yet another backstage skirmish last week, stemming from the one the week before. This time it was Melina and Sharmell, who got into an argument that turned into the beginnings of a fight in the dressing room on 5/14 in El Paso. They were arguing about the Batista/Booker T situation, since Melina is now very close to Batista. Vince McMahon had a personal talk with Melina about all the heat she had on her two days later in Albuquerque. But both women are considered in trouble for how it turned out. When they did the wrestlers' court deal in Australia on Melina a few months back in Australia, it was over her alleged attitude toward the other women, and considering it's Smackdown, there are only two other women who travel, one of whom is Sharmell, who fm told it was mainly because of. . . WWE's "Rise and Fall of ECW" book will be released on 6/6. They also have a DX DVD being released on 6/2 in conjunction with putting them back together.

In a weird signing, WWE just inked Sylvester "Predator" Terkay, from K-1. Terkay was in the WWE system in OVW for a few years before being fired as he didn't pick up pro wrestling fast enough in their eyes. He then went to Japan as a Bruiser Brody clone (they have the same type of hair and similar size, although Terkay is bigger than Brody was) and got over as a strong heel with Zero¬ One. He moved to K-l for much more money. WWE had been interested in bringing him back for some time, because at 6-6½ and 320 pounds, he has the size that John Laurinaitis and Vince McMahon like and people in that company have been trying to find a big man who can play the Bruiser Brody role for years. He was contacted about six weeks ago and expressed interest. There was a realization that K-1 was only using him as an "opponent" in kickboxing, as opposed to giving him MMA fights, where at this stage he'd be tough to beat. Plus, as an MMA fighter, he was in a bad situation. He's 35, so his time is running out. He's not a huge MMA name, but he's big and with some striking and great wrestling, he's dangerous to almost anyone. He's become like Tom Erikson was when he was younger, basically a guy who it was impossible to get any opponents for because top guys didn't want to risk their reps with no upside, and bottom guys were just avoiding him. Several times he was close to fights on big shows under MMA rules and the guys studied his background and saw his size and didn't want to face him. So the only fights he's been able to get are kickboxing matches, and he's not a top of the line kick boxer, even though most do believe he beat Remy Bonjasky in their New Year's Eve fight. After losing in Las Vegas to Choi Hong-man in kickboxing, instead of booking him on Hero's shows, he was offered a fight with Peter Aerts with two weeks notice under kickboxing rules. Terkay is supposed to spend two weeks in Deep South for evaluation and then be brought to the main roster. Terkay was the 1993 NCAA heavyweight champion in wrestling, and took second in 1992, when he, at 275 pounds, lost in the finals to Kurt Angle, who weighed 199. When he was signed, even though this angle was played up several years ago in OVW when Jim Cornette promoted an Angle vs. Terkay match (which stunk, by the way) on a major show at the Louisville Gardens, has been written about here probably 15 times or more over the years, and Angle wrote about it extensively in his book, nobody in the current WWE talent relations had a clue about it until it was brought to their attention after he had been signed. The only negative for a guy like him is in any other promotion, he can play "big monster," but in WWE, with so many big monsters, he has to play up-and-down wrestler, and we'll see if he's improved to where he can get over in that role. This is just a guess, but with Angle on Smackdown, and Smackdown needing heels, he would seem likely to fill that hole. I don't know about his talking skills, but he's the type of heel that would headline in the 70s against Bruno, with a manager, and draw big, so having a manager for him wouldn't be the worst idea.

In the Diva Search, they are copying from "Dancing with the Stars" and spreading it over twice as much TV. The "Challenges" will be put on Smackdown, to allow for editing and sound sweetening since there was a lot of embarrassment in these type of things where they have amateurs trying to perform. They will then bring the women out on Raw only to announce who is eliminated every week. It will be an eight-week process over both shows. The women will be introduced on the 7/10 Raw, with the first challenge airing on 7/14 and first elimination on 7/17. There will be eight finalists this year. Like "Dancing with the Stars," they will cut down to three people with the final Raw being on 8/14. The winner will be announced on a USA Network special on 8/17, as opposed to on Smackdown. The special will air 9-10 p.m. so it will compete with Unleashed, but not with the debut of he new season of Ultimate Fighter, that starts on the same night. We do know of at least eight porn stars that are applying. Last year, several applied, but none made it .to the final eight. . . We don't have this confirmed at press time, but it is likely the complete Stampede Wrestling collection was purchased by WWE from Ross Hart. Sources at The Fight Network, which had been airing old Stampede footage, were also told on 5/23 that the sale was completed. We also know Hart had been talking to WWE about selling the collection. We should have confirmation if the deal is completed next week. Of late, WWE has bought tape collections when they need them, and with the Brian Pillman DVD coming out soon, there is now a time sensitive reason to buy the tapes. The World Class tapes and St. Louis tapes haven't even been made an offer for, even though WWE opened talks about buying both collections around a year ago.

==========

Notes from the 5/22 Raw in Las Vegas. The show had a good overall storyline, and some really bad wrestling. There were two major focuses. The first was starting the push for ECW One Night Stand, and that could have been a lot better. The second was completing the HHH turn. Quite frankly, they should have concentrated on one, because I felt trying to hit both hard diluted the impact of each. Since the DX reunion isn't for five weeks, I’d have saved that angle, although you were going to step on the ECW build-up no matter what, because 6/12 would be too late to pull it off. Show opened with Vince saying that Shane had a mild concussion, and if not for the fact he had such superior genetics, he'd have been hurt even worse. He recognized HHH had hit him with the sledge hammer by accident, but demanded an apology on the air, and if not, there would be swift, vengeful retaliation by Vince. He said if HHH didn't apologize, his life would be the same living hell Michaels is. Foley came out and tried to be a heel by playing a smarmy insincere babyface, telling fans that he's not a bad guy and they can tell their kids to still cheer him. He also did his cheap pop saying it's great to be in Las Vegas, and then ripped on people who try to make it rich by gambling instead of working hard. He brought out Edge, and gave him a present of his original hardcore title belt and made him the new hardcore legend. He called Edge a real hardcore wrestler as opposed to the third rate guys in ECW. Edge wanted to give the belt back to Foley. They pretended they would fight on the show for the belt before they agreed to be co-champions. Heyman came out and said there was a prostitute in the ring, but that it wasn't Lita, it was Foley. Heyman claimed he was prostituting the name of hard core and that when Foley looks in the mirror, he sees a shell of his former self. Foley said Heyman is the one who has nothing left, as he's been fired by WWE as G.M. and lost his company. Heyman said he was issuing a challenge to Edge & Foley to face two ECW hardcore wrestlers. Foley said no way, but Edge accepted while Foley was shaking his head not to. They got into it with Funk & Dreamer in a short brawl where Funk & Dreamer used garbage can lids and ran them off. The talking here was first rate, but it didn't get over as strong as I thought it would. While this won't be the case the night of the show in New York, thus Raw there has been a major amount of passion missing in the fans for this year's ECW return as compared to last year. The two bigger problems is that even though he's trying to play chicken, people don't want to boo Foley. Even after two weeks of being Edge's friend, he still got cheered when he came out, although not enthusiastically, and the crowd took to him as a face, and when he heeled on the crowd, it was more a Pavlovian heel response than any kind of passionate one. The other is the huge crowd turnover. WWE has lost tons of fans in the last two years, while Cena's popularity (as well as a few others) have brought in many new replacement fans. ECW is just a name like Bruno Sammartino or something before a lot of young fun's time. To a lot of older fans, it's a big deal, but a lot of them aren't attending WWE house shows these days. Benjamin beat Van Dam via DQ in 9:43 to keep the IC title. Another big problem is that Van Dam is being put in a position for the first time since coming to the company to be a top guy, even if it's on a lower level TV show. He needs to really be a superstar on these shows, and is positioned as such, but he's not delivering. He wasn't dynamic, and he was sloppier than usual here. Match wasn't good at all. After a ref bump, Benjamin grabbed the belt, but before he could deliver the belt shot, RVD kicked the belt in his face. The ref saw it and called for the DQ. RVD did a frog splash after the match.

Backstage, Vince was with Candice and introduced her to two members of the group ZZ Top. They've been going to matches dating back to Paul Boesch days in Houston, but this was the first skit ever. Candice was wearing a pearl necklace, which is the name of one of their more famous hits. Anyway, the pearl necklace reference is a slang term for sex on a woman's chest and cuming on her upper chest. I can't imagine when I started doing this that I’d ever be stuck writing like this. Vince came to the ring and told HHH to come out. He ordered him to apologize. HHH said he wanted to hear two words. HHH teased a face turn when he said, "You want two words; I'll give you two words." Crowd was ready to explode, but then he said, "I’m sorry." Vince accepted it, but ordered HHH to smash Michaels' skull in with a sledgehammer when he tells him to during the main event. They shook hands. Kane did a promo. He said May 19th was the night his mother died in a horrible fire. But he said he was happy now because his movie is out and the date has passed. Cena beat Masters clean in 6:12 with the STFU. The crowd didn't boo Cena much at first, but was booing him pretty big after he botched one move after another. I was really appreciating how good HHH and Edge are after seeing this match. RVD came out after and issued a title challenge for One Night Stand. They came to blows. Neither worked it as a heel, but the fans, who had been booing Cena, turned on Van Dam. This was just a mess. Then Cena got the best of the brawl until Masters jumped Cena. Cena cleaned house on Masters and was supposed to do a Van Daminator into the briefcase into Cena's face. But he barely grazed the kick and it looked bad, and Cena sold it big anyway. Carlito was hitting on Maria. They have apparently become a couple in storyline since last week. They bumped into Snitsky, all dressed up waiting for an escort. He saw what he thought was a hot woman all dressed like a showgirl, but was painfully, and I mean painfully obvious it was Goldust. After all you really don't find a lot of 6-6, 275 pound women running around. Snitsky was massaging his heat when Goldust turned around. Snitsky was grossed out he was massaging a guy's feet. Michaels bumped into HHH and said he lost all respect for him the way he bowed down to Vince out there. Yes, the guy who allowed Vince to prostitute his religious beliefs was mad at a guy for not standing up for himself. This writing team is having way too much fan at our expense. I guess this was our punishment for getting the", Smackdown PPV. Kane pinned Murdoch in :38 with a choke slam. They called Murdoch the Roger Ebert of the WWE. I guess Ebert must have said how bad a movie "See No Evil" was and they needed to get back at him. The lights went out w and all the voices came back. Kane is still being tortured even though May 19th is over. I guess he's a face again, as well. James pinned Wilson in 1:53 with a DDT.

God punished J.R. for putting over "See No Evil." J.R. made a comment about how Wilson has improved as a wrestler, and these two promptly botched every spot like guys in amateur class. There was a hot shot spot that was stop, start, slow mo, and then missed all in one move. Thankfully they ended it quick because it could have only gotten worse. Stratus came out and said that Beth Phoenix was the new Raw diva. They didn't tell any story, but Phoenix and James had an ugly brawl. I promise you, Phoenix was so much prettier in OVW. Viscera came out to waste our time. He apologized to Lillian for dumping her. She wasn't down with him. He said he had a present for her, and looked like he was going to whip it out, but instead gave her a partially eaten McDonald's hamburger. I'm sure there is some phallic reference to that but I couldn't find it out. He said he'd like her to make him his meals, he was hungry, he was horny, and he made a mistake dumping her for ho's. He then asked Lillian to marry him. You know, weddings do equal ratings. Estrada came out. This segment was getting so bad that I was begging to hear the same interview I've heard 35 times in a row. So was the crowd, who started chanting some of it with him. Anyway, Umaga and Viscera had a brawl, and Umaga destroyed him with the Samoan spike. I just realized Flair was supposed to return on this show, was booked on all the house shows, and they didn't even bother to use him on the show. Michaels NC Spirit Squad in a l-on-5 main event. McMahon said no ref in the ring and it was a tornado match. They gave Michaels the highest high sprits to date. It was about 15 times higher than when they had to do it on Viscera. Mitch did more work than he's done in his entire WW tenure combined, so his back must have gotten a lot better. They destroyed Michaels for a few minutes. Michaels then made a comeback, and nailed two of them with a superkick, but Nicky nailed Michaels in the knee with a chair. They destroyed Michaels knee, ripped up his pants and took off his knee brace. They put the knee in a chair while Kenny came off the top rope with a legdrop. Vince ordered HHH to bash Michaels' skull in. When HHH got in there, Kenny took the sledge hammer away from HHH. When he went to use it, HHH turned face and cleaned house on all five, ending with a pedigree on Kenny.

Smackdown notes from 5/19 TV show. Show had some interesting points and a hot crowd. London & Kendrick & Hall beating MNM & Melina had a lot of heat. Good work from the guys, and they set up the women's spots well. *** match. During commentary, Tazz made some remarks regarding ECW, teasing his participation, saying Foley has forgotten where he came from and he was mad about it. Lashley speared Jared Steel in little time. The in-ring highlight of the show was Benoit & Scott over Finlay & Booker in 18:13. They are pushing Scott as Benoit's protégé. That means that as soon as Scott starts to get over, they'll turn him on Benoit. Scott now does the Benoit walk to the ring and the two have a similar physique. I actually never even realized there was such a thing as a “Benoit walk” to the ring until I saw Scott having to imitate it. Lashley came out and sat in the throne on the entrance ramp. Sharmell yelled at Booker, who at the time had Scott until control. Booker was distracted and Scott pinned him with a crucifix. ***1/4. They did more Tatanka silliness. Tatanka debuts again next week Henry pinned Hardy in a short match. One thing I can say is Hardy did about as good as he could under the circumstances. Remember when they would bury Hardy and he'd still be over? That's becoming less and less.

Burchill this week told Nunzio that he saw Vito in line at a grocery store dressed up like a woman. Nunzio didn't believe him, saying Vito is a skirt chaser not a skirt wearer. Burchill is doing a gimmick that he's an alcoholic. That will do wonders for his career. . Main event with Mysterio vs. Kane was just to set up the movie. JBL tricked Mysterio into saying it was May 19th. Kane came out and destroyed him. Match only went 4:00 but I do have to say it was well worked for that time before the silliness took place. As Kane had Mysterio beat, he started hearing the voices in his head and was being tortured by his brain. We were being tortured as well by their brains. At some point the light came on and Kane was okay and choke slammed Mysterio. Kane then wouldn't follow up and JBL got in the ring and started brow-beating Kane, who was selling being tortured, by this time with no house lights turned off and no sound effects. Is that fair? JBL said, "He was the one who said May 19th," and Kane choke slammed JBL for his troubles.

I'm told the person who came up with most of the finish on the 5/15 Raw match in Lubbock with HHH & Benjamin & Masters vs. Cena & RVD match was HHH. I really thought it was a clever finish, Yes, it was self serving in that HHH pedigreed and beat both Cena and RVD, both champs, but as ,ong as the working idea is to get HHH over as the top face in the company, well, he needs to be booked as the top face. As far as if he should be, that's a different issue. It is his time to turn and Cena is a bigger draw, but when he turns, he needs to be pushed as the equal to the champ or the turn will be wasted. I'm not for five more years of 20 minute HHH interviews, but you're a fool if you deny he has value and is considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest star in the company and should be booked as such. . . HHH will be Flair's best man at his wedding on 5/27 in the Grand Cayman Islands. Also attending are Batista and Michaels.

In a correction from two weeks ago. Flair didn't sign a new contract, but signed a one year extension of his existing deal. . . Other notes from the Raw taping in Vegas. Shawn Osborne, Melissa Anderson (Cheerleader Melissa) and Devin Nicholson (from Stampede Wrestling) worked in jobber roles. Anderson put over Victoria in a solid match. Victoria played face. Dark match was Cena over Edge in a street fight doing the roulette wheel gimmick. It must have been fixed because they had cage match as one of the choices, and there was no cage in sight. They also had a "capture the midget" match listed. Edge said that had something to do with putting Tazz in the comer. Cena won with the FU after Edge speared Lita. Security confiscated anti-Cena signs before Raw started, including one that read "I've Cena Nuff.". Regarding reports from Japan about WWE and Shinsuke Nakamura, who attended the Raw tapings in Anaheim, WWE has offered no deal to Nakamura. John Laurinaitis did talk with Simon Inoki about Nakamura but in WWE the belief is nothing is going to come out of that. . . Johnny & Jason Riggs were both cut from developmental this past week. The feeling was they were not improving. . . Woman wrestler Shantelle Taylor from Canada is being considered for a developmental contract. - They first have to get her a working visa for the U.S.

Pro wrestling and MMA titles in the top 20 sports DVD's for the 5/27 Billboard Magazine chart (base on retail outlet sales, not including Wal-Mart, between 5/8 and 5/14): 1. UFC 56 Franklin vs. Quarry; 4. TNA Final Resolution; 5. ECW's Most Violent Matches; 6. Hardcore Homecoming 2 November Reign; 7. Wrestlemania 21; 8; WWE Royal Rumble; 9. UFC Classics Volume 3; 10. UFC Classics Volume 4; 11. Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior; 12. WWE New Year's Revolution, Elimination Chamber match; 13. Tombstone: History of The Undertaker; 15. The Bret Hart Story; 17. TNA Best of the Bloodiest Brawls; 18. UFC Classics Volume 1; 19. WWE No Way Out Angle vs. Undertaker; 20. Pride Fighting Championships Legacy Volume 3. An interesting note on the Hardcore Homecoming hitting No.6 is that during that week, it was only available at Best Buy. It was released to all other retail stores on 5/16, two days after the chart period ended. I think this would be about the lowest ranking in probably a decade (No.7) for the top ranked WWE DVDIVHS tape, if not longer, not to mention four pro wrestling/MMA releases beating any WWE release. That won't be for long, as the upcoming Wrestlemania DVD will likely top the charts for a while after its release this week, and there is already strong advanced sales for the Backlash DVD and the Dusty Rhodes-DVD coming out next month. . . From Reba McIntyre, in an Entertainment Weekly interview which brought up her singing "America the Beautiful" at Wrestlemania VIII. The question was, Ray Charles did sing it at Wrestlemania n, but he was blind, what’s your excuse? "It was a gig on the way to a gig. They asked me to do it in the afternoon, and I did my show that night. I was never so ready to get out of a ring in all my life." . Ryan Reeves, who was just starting to get a push in OVW, suffered a broken thumb throwing a punch and is out of action. . . The magazine Real Fighter did an interview with Angle regarding MMA. He said that in hindsight, he would be a whole lot healthier if he had gone into MMA rather than pro wrestling, due to all the punishment he's taken. He talked about having wrestled Randy Couture and Mark Coleman in the past (as well as Dan Severn, Mark Kerr, Sumiyabazar Dolgolsuren, Sylvester Terkay and probably others). He claimed 'he was scheduled to do a boxer vs. wrestler match with Lennox Lewis in Japan, but said he would have rather fought an MMA fighter, because he knew he'd have an easy time taking down and beating Lewis. He said Vince had given him the green light to do it but his neck started getting bad and it fell through. He also said he has trained with Severn and Steve Courson in submissions. He said he's had very limited training in submissions but he whipped Courson all over the place, but once in a while Courson would watch him. I never heard of an Angle vs. Lewis match. A few years back, there were preliminary negotiations for Brock Lesnar vs. Lewis. While Lewis denied it when the story got out, the talks got serious enough that Vince called the Nevada State Athletic Commission and had a show booked for Las Vegas. The idea behind it was they had wanted Lesnar to be the next big star of the company, and thought by making a match with Lewis, which they felt confident he'd win easily, that would give him the mainstream name appeal to the casual fan to put him over the top. Lewis was insisting on a lot of rules that would have given him a better chance. Angle was actually supposed to face Michael Moorer, a former heavyweight boxing champ, not Lewis, on that same show. I believe the Lewis people actually came to WWE with the proposal wanting to co-promote it, but then Lewis signed to fight Klitschko and lost interest In the snuck through the censors award for the year, Khali used the term "Madar Choud" when talking about Undertaker, which is Hindu for "motherfucker." . . Harry Smith actually is set to debut on 5/26 in Boise when Raw does a Northwestern swing, working openers against Conway, before his TV debut on 6/5. He has said he'll have no problems doing a program with Michaels for the 2007 Survivor Series in Montreal, being that Michaels is one of the all-time great workers. He was offered a spot in TNA in January by Jarrett, but had mentally committed to WWE a long time back, just wanted to spend a few years working Japan and Europe until that time. Well, New Japan stopped using him and WWE at Mania told him he could come in and skip developmental and go right to the main roster. . . Todd is the Shane Twin with the minor pec tear who is out of action. . .In Deep South, Antonio Mestre is doing a gimmick where he's a gamer, where he plays classic videogames as he's coming to the ring. The Miz is returning to Deep South. Regal worked the Deep South tapings again on 5/18, putting over Roughhouse O'Reilly. . .Lawler pinning Burchill match on 5/19 in Southaven, MS, which was the big Memphis show that also included some WWE developmental wrestlers, drew about 600 fans. Memphis Wrestling is doing nostalgia shows on 6/16 in Jackson, TN, and 6/17 in Southaven. . . The Daily India newspaper had a story on Khali, who was a laborer in a tiny village in the Himalayan mountains for real. Khali was named over Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction. He is one of eight children, born in the village of Sirmau Valley. He was working as a laborer in Shimla, and the police in Punjab found him and saw his size and recruited him for the police force. They taught him bodybuilding and he became Mr. India, and then he got sent to California to be a pro wrestler. . .At the 5/15 tapings in Lubbock, last week we have dark and Heat match results, which were Jim Duggan over Conway, Carlito over Russell Simpson, Cade & Murdoch over Viscera & Haas and The Highlanders won a match. . . WWE is planning on making a big push in Spain. Their TV deal for Smackdown debuts on Cuatro, one of the TV networks in that country, on 5/27. It would be the first WWE TV in Spain since 1994, and the first wrestling on TV in that country since a very brief Nitro run in 1999. The feeling is that long without wrestling makes the country virgin territory and capable of doing huge business. . . The real numbers for 5/12 in Hidalgo, TX, were 7,397 total in the building and 6,876 paid for $235,575, which was a first day sellout. 5/13 Raw in Wichita Falls drew 2,600 and $94,000. 5/13 Smackdown in El Paso drew 4,400 and $157,000. 5/14 Raw in Amarillo drew 3,300 and $97,000, even with Terry Funk added to the show. 5/14 Smackdown in Odessa drew 2,020 and $67,000. The Raw taping in Lubbock drew 6,500 and $200,000. The Smackdown taping in Albuquerque drew 5,757 and $190,000. Overall by recent standards, it was actually below par aside from Hidalgo. . . 5/20 in Denver was the usual Raw show. They did Cena over HHH and Edge in the three-way with the same Steamboat ref spot finish they've been doing the past two weeks. Flair and Michaels were on tour, so they teamed with Show over 3 members of the Spirit Squad and won. Most everything else is what they've been doing, other than Beth Phoenix got Torrie Wilson's spot in the women's tag match, teaming with Maria over James & Victoria. The gimmick is that James runs from Beth. I think that's the reason they wanted Beth to gain her weight back, because they are looking at her to play more of a physically intimidating and more threatening face powerlifter/wrestler role (which is what her background is) than a slim down for bikini/lingerie role (which she'd cut a lot of weight and gotten big implants for). rd suspect long-term would be for her in that role to turn on Stratus once this storyline plays out. . . Tucson was the same deal as Denver. Flair gets to cut promos at house shows and they always get over. They were encouraging ECW chants as during Benjamin vs. RVD, Benjamin told the crowd not to chant "ECW," which was far more effective than RVD asking the crowd to chant "ECW." Benjamin vs. RVD had what was reported as the best match. Cena over HHH and Edge on top with Steamboat as ref. They always have a good match. Pretty hard not to when the live crowds are filled with kids to see Cena, and HHH and Edge are such pros in carrying a match.


Spoiler for Unforgiven 06 review + other news:
WWE Unforgiven Poll Results

Thumbs Up: 220 (89.1%)
Thumbs Down: 0 (0.00%)
Thumbs In The Middle: 27 (10.9%)

Best Match Poll

John Cena vs. Edge 183
Trish Stratus vs. Lita 32
DX vs. McMahon’s and Big Show 17
Johnny Nitro vs. Jeff Hardy 9
Randy Orton vs. Carlito 8

Worst Match Poll

Spirit Squad vs. Highlanders 130
Kane vs. Umaga 102
DX vs. McMahon’s and Big Show 14

Dave called Unforgiven overall “one of the best PPV shows of the year, due to the main event”

Said much of the show, with Trish retiring as champion and Cena regaining the belt, was predictable, and the biggest surprise of the night was that the Toronto fans were not insulted. Said WWE and Toronto fans have a love/hate relationship, and that Toronto fans are lively but also the least predictable. WWE would often be negative about the fans, insulting them harshly in private and occasionally on-air as well with the “Bizzaroland” term. Dave said that this time the reactions were predictable.

The crowd was 16,105 with 15,000 paid. Said the Cena vs. Edge match may have been WWE’s best match of the year.

While on the PPV it appeared Cena was heavily early on in the match, there were parts where he did get cheers with live reports stating that he was cheered greatly by the end of the match. However, after the match as he was leaving with the belt, he was booed heavily. Even though Cena did win, he didn’t even pretend to be happy, which was explained as Cena being unhappy over what he had to do to Edge.

There had been a lot of publicity in Canada in the days leading up the PPV based on the retirement of Trish Stratus.

Trish Stratus quote:

From Sports Illustrated: “It’s been almost seven years and my contract renewal came up and it kind of just hit me, where am I at in life?...Do I want to be here for another three or five years?”

On TSN’s Off The Record she said it felt it was time after seven years, and with her wedding and contract expiration coming up she didn’t want to sign for another three to five years at this stage of her life. She said she wasn’t burned out but that she felt there was so much going on around her, like her friends getting married and having kids and even her mother getting ill and not being able to there, that made her realize she need to stop and enjoy life. She said she never posed for Playboy because it’s not her style and she’s proud that she’ll be remembered as a multiple time Women’s Champion rather than a girl who posed for Playboy. She noted that she was asked to pose within six months of being in wrestling and then at least once a year after that. She said that Randy Orton spent more time in front of the mirror than any other male wrestler and when asked who was more masculine Chyna or her fiancé she said “Chyna, 100%. No offense to my fiancé”.

Said with the stipulation of Cena going to Smackdown if he lost and with Smackdown badly in need of star power you could make a hell of an argument that he should lose but that was never considered as they went with the deal of Cena losing in his hometown and coming back to beat Edge in his hometown and in his specialty match. Dave said that it worked, because there was tremendous emotion and it was clearly the match that everyone came to see.

With both TLC and Hell in a Cell matches, they made this a stronger gimmick match show than they have done for a ‘B’ show this year, and Dave comments that they’ve gone through risking careers in stipulations and bringing back legends to pop buy rates and they all worked in their time.

The crowd were not into the HIAC match as much as you would have expected, but bringing back DX made it the first time Shawn was cheered in Toronto in almost ten years, and while there was a “You Screwed Bret” chant, it did not last long and it also seemed more directed at Vince. The match built to the spot of Vince getting his head shoved into Big Show’s bare ass, and while everyone did bleed, it felt like that, for the first 20:00, there was nothing happening but people bleeding. The finish of the McMahon’s going out on stretchers may have been the blow-off to the program, but if so it leaves DX with nothing to do, as even though there was talk of putting Edge and Randy Orton together nothing was hinted to that effect the next night on Raw.

Dave said the main event made the show, and that while Cena isn’t the best of wrestlers he gets a lot of respect internally for how hard he works. Edge has also become the company MVP because he and Cena always have good matches tighter, even at house shows. Dave called this their best match to date. Dave said Cena is like Steve Austin in that he’s so over that he doesn’t have to work hard all the time, but he still goes out and works incredibly hard, and Dave said Cena’s effort in the match as “above and beyond”.

A large number of signs were confiscated

Johnny Nitro vs. Jeff Hardy: **1/4 Said Nitro made the match and that it fell apart for a few minutes in the middle when Hardy made his comeback and blew some spots.
Umaga vs. Kane: *1/4: Said the crowd was into AAA even though he hasn’t had time on Raw to do his deal. Called the finish crappy and that the match had been fine until then.
Spirit Squad vs. Highlanders: ¾* Said it was amazing how quickly the SS got over and then were quickly buried underground.
DX vs. The McMahon’s and Big Show: ***1/4 Said that for a strongly promoted feud, it was slow early on and lacked heat. Said the characters were over but the wrestling was clumsy early.
Trish Stratus vs. Lita: ***1/4 Called it the best women’s match on PPV in a long time.
Randy Orton vs. Carlito **1/2
John Cena vs. Edge: ****1/4

Other News

The first estimated number of buys for Summerslam is 538,000. Dave says this years show had more drawing depth than last year, with Cena vs. Edge, Orton vs. Hogan, McMahon’s vs. DX and Flair vs. Foley, but he thinks the two matches most responsible were Orton vs. Hogan and Flair vs. Foley. The show is slightly above last year’s at this stage, and could finish at around the 620,000 mark. The number for this year is likely split with around 320,000 buys being domestic, and the rest from overseas. For North America since the “glory period”, this years is likely to only beat 2004 when all is said and done. It’s not on overwhelming success and what success there is more then ever down to the company and PPV being established overseas.

This years Summerslam will very likely wind up being the most profitable and, because of the price tag, biggest grossing Summerslam of all time. As far as money generated, it has not yet beaten 1998, $21m for Austin vs. Undertaker, which was the biggest number of buys ever for a Summerslam, with 700,000. Apart from the Invasion PPV, it’s the biggest non-Wrestlemania PPV in company history.

Raw on 9/11 segment notes: The parking lot beat down of DX by Show, Shane, Cade and Murdoch lost 372,000 and was the lowest rated segment of the show (3.3), but the Vince vs. Hunter match gained 869,000 for the ratings peak of 4.0, which is somewhat of a disappointing number.

Raw on 9/18 segment notes: The Orton promo and the build-up to the six-way gained 508,000 but the match itself lost 508,000. The six-man main event gained 635,000 for the ratings peak of 4.3, which beat the ratings peak of last week with the Vince vs. Hunter main event.

The Hardy vs. Helms match on Smackdown on 9/15 got a 0.8, making it the lowest rated segment in the history of the show.

JBL has given his notice to leave the announcing gig on Smackdown. JBL is doing well in his job and has decided to give up traveling to TV one day a week. JBL’s announcing and its detractors and he wasn’t shy about being critical of John Laurinaitis. Even though he was there one day a week and not wrestling anymore, JBL still had a rep for being a bully and having people on edge and not everybody is unhappy to see him gone. At the moment, there is no idea on who will replace him. Internally, the belief is that JBL is not walking away from wrestling entirely, as JBL has indicated he’d like to occasionally come back for a big match or program.

Mysterio is still scheduled for knee surgery after No Mercy

Tazz’s contract expires at the end of the year and he’s apparently looking to get a raise. He did some radio tryouts in an attempt to get some negotiating leverage as the company feels Tazz has nowhere to go where he can make the kind of money he makes now. Dave points out that WWE has done a terrible job in grooming new announcing talent, as when they dumped JR it was painfully obvious the people they had picked out (Coach) couldn’t handle play-by-play.

The Kurt Angle Update: He apparently has no interest in TNA and he, and people in WWE, are talking about him returning for Wrestlemania, which is considered probable. He’s getting paid until 2/25, so he’ll $500,000 to come in, and that doesn’t even include royalty payments which are likely to be significant. He’s back with his wife, which has helped his mental outlook. He’s going to a doctor to work with him on pain management rather than go to rehab. WWE isn’t keen on him doing MMA because Angle losing could hurt his marketability. As well as all the other offers coming in, Angle has a legit offer to work one of the Japanese big New Year’s show which he is said to be strongly looking at.

Greg Gagne was fired on 9/11. He was heavily criticized for being behind the times and the people in Deep South didn’t even want him around. When he was fired, the story going around Deep South is that it would take one week to undo one day of teaching from Gagne. Most people had nothing against Greg personally, but they felt he was out of touch. He was going to be made a road agent, but John Laurinaitis made the decision to go with Mike Rotunda, who was hired on 9/11 on a trial basis.

The signing of Rodney Mack is right now just a tryout for a few months before making a decision on whether to make it a full-time return. He’ll be working in ECW as they have a program idea for him.

Vince made the call in the last week to bring back Marty Jannetty, and the betting line is he will not last. Marty was fired twice last year due to legal issues, and after the second firing Vince went on television and said you would never see Marty in a WWE ring again, which he meant at the time. In total, he has been hired and fired eight times by the company.

Mark Canterbury (Henry Godwin) was hired as a favor to HHH, with the explanation being that HHH wanted him in because Canterbury’s life has been hard lately, and Undertaker also likes him, but then made sure he was put on Smackdown “which keeps his show killing performances away from HHH. He was so bad (at his tryout matches) it’s indescribable.”

On the 9/15 Smackdown, Dave said the Rey vs. Kennedy match showed that the show has been given up on when a number of botched spots aired that could very easily have been edited out. When people aren’t burned out, they don’t miss an editing trick to take out something bad, and here it felt like they just put the show out there because they know Vince doesn’t care.

Dave also said it’s clear from the past weeks that Kennedy is great on the mic but has a long way to go in the ring, because it takes talent to have an average match with Mysterio.

The main reason RVD and Randy Orton are getting slowed pushes is because generally people who can’t be counted are kept from the top spots for a while. It was one of the reasons, though not the main one, why Kurt Angle was never considered for a title run. Dave thinks Van Dam will probably get the top spot back in the run up to the 12/3 PPV which he guesses to be Van Dam vs. Big Show.

Jerry Lawler’s mother suffered a stroke this past week.

The 12/5 will see the final part of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s lawsuit against WWE. It will decide what, if any, damages will be awarded for WWE violating their own 1994 agreement to not market the WWF initials outside of North America.

The numbers for MSG on 9/11 were around 12,000 paid and $575,000.

The Cryme Tyme vignette from 9/11 was one done in OVW originally but with a new voice over.

Danny Hollie (Danny Basham/The Damaja) suffered a torn biceps on 9/9 or 9/10, and will be out until April. His role as one of the masked security guards for Paul Heyman is now played by Derrick Neikirk. Neikirk was going to be part of a heel tag team in ECW with Ryan O’Reily, but O’Reily got suspended

There has been talk of putting Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin back together as a tag team to work a tag title program on Raw. There is on and off talk, usually off, of Benjamin being on a “death sentence”, because the feeling is his promos are average and you need to be better than that. One insider said he could be a player but “because he can’t recite several pages of a scripted promo he’s considered hands off.”

Daniel Rodimer is getting great reviews for already being able to cut a good promo and for having natural heel charisma.

Ted DiBiase’s sons are not under contract, even though Jim Ross mentioned them in his report. Ted doesn’t want them under contract yet. He wants Harley Race to train them and when they’re ready to then tour NOAH and become good workers there rather than be brought up too soon and get burned out.

As things stand, they have a Raw/Smackdown/ECW combined taping set for 11/6 in Columbus, OH, which would be a five hour plus show.

The Manila Times did an interview with Batista when he was last week, and when asked if the death of Eddie Guerrero scared him he said:

“It didn’t scare me. We were well aware that Eddie Guerrero abused himself for a while. But he was clean and sober for a long time, but the damage he has done to himself was obviously irreparable. It didn’t scare me because I didn’t abuse myself like that.”

Dave called the quote amazing because it was an inability to get enough blood to his enlarged heart, enlarged through usage of GH, that was in part if not mostly responsible for Eddie’s heart attack.


Spoiler for Random Observer notes Jan/Feb 06 :
Significant neck damage has led to Kurt Angle having his hand go numb again. He’s set for another MRI this week.

Angle went into shock at WM 19 after the Brock match.

WWE’s Mexico trip ended up setting the record for all time biggest gate. (443,000 for HHH Vs Beniot) the prior record was Konnan vs Cien Caras (400,000)

JBL heeled it up by saying he beat Mil Mascaras for the Mexican Hwy Title back in the 90’s (heels are allowed to lie)

Flair/Edge TLC was the highest rated match in over a year

In the 2000 lawsuit settlement the WWE paid warrior 900,000 and both parties agreed not to publicly rip on the other, so Warrior feels the DVD did so and thus he’s entitled to more damages

Finlay’s debut brought in 500,000 extra viewers a rare occurrence for a new guy

Raw’s attendance rose in December – SD!’s did not

Terry Funk sold the Double Cross Ranch recently

Jericho has a role as an android in a Sci Fi Channel original movie coming soon

Bill Dundee’s Grandson, and Bobby Eaton’s son D.L. Eaton made his debut recently, during the same show Bobby /Bill started a feud

Billy Jack Haynes was attacked by 2 men with brass knuckles and beat up pretty badly. He is known to be in some shady circles and this was a “hit”

Carmen Electra’s Naked Women’s Wrestling League (booked by Dory Funk jr) recently taped a TV pilot and PPV. Jimmy Hart and April Hunter were both on air talent

Kevin Von Erich’s son Ross wants to be a wrestler, he’s 18 and about to train

TNA and WWE can assume a big name is worth bringing in on this scale roughly: $60,000 can be paid off with 5,000 added buys. Dave thinks Jericho and Goldburg would do one shots for TNA under that price.

Shannon Moore is dating Droz ex wife

Cena vs HHH is on tap for WMania – Many agents were pulling for Edge to keep the belt due to recent big ratings with him on top (Compared to SS Graham’s aborted reign)

Dibiase has heat backstage for having too much of any “80’s view on wrestling

Vince wanted to run WM 23 at Pontiac Silverdome as a 20 year anniversary, but Ford’s Field looks to be the new choice

SS Graham and Vince had a angle planned, but SS Graham wanted to get physical and Vince didn’t want Graham to accidentally get hurt, so things were scrapped

Orlando Jordon’s Boyfriend will be played by one of his real life friends

Burchill will be a face soon

Prior to Dean Visk being cut, Creative contacted the 46 year old WARLORD (of POP) to ask if he’s like to make a comeback as a team with Visk

Foley has creative control in his new contract

HHH says Cena is being boo’d cause Angle doesn’t know how to play heel

Angle and his wife Karen are back together

Terry Funk will be the main draw of One Night Stand II

Rey Misterio Sr may be brought in to help push Rey, plus the band that does his music was contacted for WMania (a live show)

Juvented claimed to some this week that he wasn’t fired, and was stuck in Mexico with Visa problems thanks to the terror alert level

Meltzer on the LAW:

They did a "fake crowd shot" when Cena won because they were afraid of showing the real crowd since they were booing Cena.

WWE doesn't want Edge to be a strong heel because then he's a threat to HHH.

Rey vs. Angle isn't happening, it's Orton vs. Angle. At least that's the plan.

Boogeyman winning is a sign of the '80s cartoon gimmick coming back. There's going to be a bunch of new gimmicks, including a 50's style gimmick for Deuce Domino, a roller-skating waitress, a "Fidel Castro" gimmick, and a "Brother Love incarnate" gimmick.

Also adding this:

"Edge was said to be very upset backstage at the Royal Rumble when he found out he would be dropping the WWE Title back to John Cena. Upset in the sense of being distraught, not angry. Edge was said to be in such bad shape over it that Vince McMahon pulled Edge into his office privately to assure him that they weren't going to give up on him. Edge was upset that his lifelong dream lasted only 3 weeks."


Spoiler for 12/25/06:
Armageddon Star Ratings

1) Kane vs MVP = *
2) London & Kendrick vs MNM vs Hardyz vs Regal & Taylor = ****1/4
3) Boogeyman vs Miz = DUD
4) Benoit vs Chavo = ***1/4
5) Helms vs Yang = ***
6) Taker vs Kennedy = **1/4
7) Dave & Cena vs Finlay & Booker = *1/4

News

There's a very good chance Piper wouldn't have found out about his cancer had he not won the tag belts with Flair. It wasn't untill he got hurt and had to be operated on that the cancer was discovered and he was told by his doctor that it could have been another three years before he found out about it and by then it would've been far too late.

Simon Inoki's meeting at Stanford on 12/14 was about doing possible talent exchanges between New Japan and WWE. It's not expected to go anywhere as New Japan has no one WWE is interested in. There is talk that Antonio Inoki arranged the meeting to make possible investors think he might be able to being in WWE guys and help him buy back a controling interest in New Japan.

Jim Ross asked, for the first time ever, for a week off at the start of the year to attend the University of Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl game. He was refused.

The smart money is on Tazz leaving when his contract expires, probably going on to present a radio show in New York. Brad Armstrong was thought of a posibble replacement for him which was why he was at the broadcast table on the 12/19 ECW tapings. That's also why Tazz ate him alive when they were both on air.

Amy Zidian, who was playing the part of Jimmy Yang's girlfriend was fired for rubbing the wrong people the wrong way. Firstly she made a comment to Layla El asking if she was bothered that she was getting a push when the girl who won the Diva Search El was part of was "collecting dust". Secondly, she made fun of Kristal Marshall's hair extentions. Thirdly she asked Vickie Guerrero why she was a diva and made a comment about her looks. As you can imagine, there is nothing that will get you universally dispised in the WWE locker room than upsetting Vickie. Vickie responded by saying that as she wasn't pretty enough she better get out of "your" locker room. Zidian honestly didn't have a clue who Vickie was and had no idea why she was on the roster, which is scary in and of itself. She was a second away from being fired for that, but John Laurinaitis went to bat for her and managed to keep her on the payroll. At this point Jimmy Yang refused to have anything to do with Zidian backstage. What did get her fired was when her and Yang were doing a backstage segment that was benig produced by Steph, and Zidian asked Steph who she was to dare give her any advice... Steph told her exactly who she was and Zidian rolled her eyes at her. And that was that. Laurinaitis got a lot of heat for all of this, as he was the one who hired her, put her on TV and then defended her after the Vickie incident.

Following on from the Zidian problems there are people shuddering backstage as Laurinaitis and the company want to bring in 20 (twenty) more women to be on the three brands in the next few months. Mike Bucci (Nova/Simon Dean) has started a program in OVW to try and teach the women a bit of wrestling history to avoid another Zidian. Cornette did something similar years back when he was horrified that Linda Miles had no idea who Lou Thesz was.

Vince decided when he got back Iraq he didn't want the Hardy Boyz as a tag team. However, thanks to them popping good quarter hour ratings, he keeps telling the writers that they can stay together for 'one more week' so they seem to have an indefinate stay of execution.

Ken Doane was given the last name Dykstra as one of Brian Gerwitz's favourite baseball players was Lenny Dykstra. They want him as main event heel, but he's not going to be shot to the top. The mentallity on his is simliar to the one they had for Orton when he was called up. The idea is he'll be a main eventer by 2009.

The plan for Vladimir Kozlov is for him to the geeky Russian who thinks he's a babyface but will be a heel, similiar to the orginial gimmick for Kurt Angle. The gimmick is that he's a sambo and MMA champion. The McMahon's have decided he's going to get a main event push, which has caused a lot of concern as he's really bad. So bad that Deep South didn't want him to wrestle on their TV when he was down there.

See No Evil did $3.3 million in gross this last week, which gives a total of $7.09 million after two weeks.

The Marine is at $18,719,747 domestic, and $19,776,273 when you include overseas.

Federline may not be around after 1/1 as he's rumoured to be a contestant on "Celebrity Big Brother" in the UK that starts on 1/3.

Stephanie seeing Daniel Rodimer as "the new Diesel" and to that end wants to put him with Edge and Orton. There are already house shows being advertised with DX vs Edge, Orton and Rodimer in 2-on-3 matches.

Danny Doring has been released.

As things stand the 2007 PPV line up is,

1/7 New Years Revolution
1/28 Royal Rumble
2/18 No Way Out
4/1 Wrestlemania
4/29 Backlash
5/20 Judgement Day
6/10 ECW One Night Stand
6/24 Vengence
7/22 Great American Bash
8/26 SummerSlam
9/16 Unforgiven


Russel Simpson has signed a developmental deal. Simpson, 32, has previously worked in Japan for Hustle.

John Laurinaitis sold 1,900 shares of WWE stock for $32,400 on 12/12. He still has 42,472 shares which are worth $713,000. Head of legal Ed Kaufman sold 9,618 shares for $161,600 after being allowed to buy 4,167 at only $9.60 per share, which is well below market price. He currently has 37,719 shares worth about $633,000.

The company has spent $1,635,000 on video libraries this year.

59.5% on the companies profits come from live events, TV advertising, TV rights and PPV. 37.3% come from merchandising and 3.2% comes from the website. UFC, on the other hand, draws around 90% of their profits from live events, TV advertising, TV rights and PPV.

Hogan is likely to pitch Hogan & Vince vs Show & Bischoff for Wrestlemania, with a "will Vince turn on Hogan?" angle.

The company now spends $2.2 million on producing each PPV. That means the break even point is 138,104 buys. The lowest recent number they've done is 195,000 for No Mercy, but without international buys they would only just have broken even on that show.

WWE Magazine averaged 197,400 paid circulation ove the past quarter which means a profit of around $900,000 for the quarter. The old Raw and Smackdown magazines averaged 141,875 in sales, but did make more profit per sale than the new magazine. So more sales has actually still lead to lower profitabilty.

The company averages $12.47 income per DVD, which means $6.02 profit on each disc sold.

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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Spoiler for 1/30/06 Meltzer on LAW notes:
Meltzer on the LAW:

They did a "fake crowd shot" when Cena won because they were afraid of showing the real crowd since they were booing Cena.

WWE doesn't want Edge to be a strong heel because then he's a threat to HHH.

Rey vs. Angle isn't happening, it's Orton vs. Angle. At least that's the plan.

Boogeyman winning is a sign of the '80s cartoon gimmick coming back. There's going to be a bunch of new gimmicks, including a 50's style gimmick for Deuce Domino, a roller-skating waitress, a "Fidel Castro" gimmick, and a "Brother Love incarnate" gimmick.

Also adding this:

"Edge was said to be very upset backstage at the Royal Rumble when he found out he would be dropping the WWE Title back to John Cena. Upset in the sense of being distraught, not angry. Edge was said to be in such bad shape over it that Vince McMahon pulled Edge into his office privately to assure him that they weren't going to give up on him. Edge was upset that his lifelong dream lasted only 3 weeks."


Spoiler for 11/1/04:
In all the time I've been a fan of pro wrestling, I've never been more concerned, or more scared, about its future. Not that the business won't be around, because WWE has so much money, but that pro wrestling, unless the problems are addressed, will end up at a lower level of popularity than at any time in recent memory.

To look at the 1992-1995 period in the U.S. and say things were far worse, and in ways they were far worse, misses a major point. Yes, revenues were far lower, and about the only promoter in the U.S. running at a profit was Jerry Jarrett with the USWA. And while his company hadn't started losing money because he had guys working five nights a week for $125 per week, it eventually did and by then was already headed down the path that would end up as extinction. But it felt like there were people interested in wrestling, and more, there were so many things about wrestling being done internationally, in particular in Japan and Mexico, that were revolutionary at the time. There were many great wrestlers around who, often because of size, had not been exposed to the U.S. fan base. There were ideas that could shake things up, such as the UWFI vs. New Japan feud in Japan that Eric Bischoff saw at a sold out Tokyo Dome which led to the NWO angle that was one of the things that started the ball rolling. There was ECW as a cult favorite, using both ideas from Japan, creating new talent, and some new ideas that started getting a cult following. Today, there is none of that. While Mexico is doing fine, the smaller guys doing incredible high spots that was one of the new innovations of the late 90s, has already been done in the U.S. Ultimately, for a number of reasons, some due to people who didn't understand the style or thought it was wrong, or who thought small guys couldn't get over in the U.S., and on some points may have been right, it wasn't booked to succeed. And that can kill anything. Today, the public has seen every great high flying move and due to so many injuries, WWE has shied away from "holy shit" moments, so it has not been booked as something important, and it isn't. The ECW hardcore, taken from FMW in Japan, with the table breaking and heavy usage of weapons and blood, came, was hot, but has been passé for some time. Long-term, it becomes numbing and worse, both WWE and WCW turned it into a comedy feeling rather than a brutal deal, and naturally, that killed it dead. But what that period had was so many stars, and with new match-ups on the WWE side, and dream match-ups on the WCW side, every week, the hotness of the product enabled others pushed to become big stars. There is no new style, new angle, or new wrestlers making their mark overseas that can be imported to make things fresh.

The worst thing done by WWE over the past three years is not only not really making new stars, although they have tried and even came close with Brock Lesnar, but he was victimized by being flip-flopped from heel to face too quickly, but for reasons that sounded very good at the time, they took people who were stars to the fans, and portrayed them as being fake stars who weren't really big-time. Whether it was Rob Van Dam, Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, or Bill Goldberg, it doesn't matter now, because the damage has long since been done and time will tell if the very expensive lessons of opportunities squandered has been learned from. In 2001, when things started declining, any fan with a halfway decent understanding of booking could have come up with money scenarios that somehow the professionals couldn't, or wouldn't, see. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were pushed as mid-carders for so long that it was going to be difficult, even with Benoit getting a huge booking push early this year, for them to be able to carry the top. Others, Triple H and The Undertaker, who are portrayed the strongest, are stale from so many years at the top and people not believing in their opponents as real challengers. Within the front office of the company, they've been told by management that Randy Orton on the Raw brand and John Cena on the Smackdown brand are being groomed, it takes time, but they'll be the new stars to turn it around, and that things are six months to a year away from turning around. That was also the line about the brand extension, a few steps back but ultimately steps forward, and now, two plus years in, there have been no steps forward. A few new stars have been made that would have been made anyway, and PPV is weakening due to less talent depth on shows and weaker and repeat main events. The only benefit is I believe it slowed up the inevitable burning out of talent by being in angles once a week instead of twice, and with two brands, allowed more people to work house shows and thus speed up their learning curve for new guys. It also has created so many titles that NOBODY knows who the champs are, NOBODY cares. All belts are meaningless, and that is not a good thing.

It's still very early in the game for Orton, and he's got a great look and for his age and experience level, is a great wrestler, but his first taste at the top and his face turn were not successful. Even the most optimistic realize there is nothing on the horizon that is going to change things, and as many have stated since the summer of 2001, the best thing to do is plan long-term (which they are doing to a degree with HHH vs. Orton's Wrestlemania rematch, and Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker, which no hints have even been started on) and hope that brings anticipation. If you look at the company's most successful shows in the past three years, they have all involved either long-term angles or old stars returning.

Cena has not crossed over to teenagers like they expected, even though his rap skills and charisma says he should. They are taking a big gamble with Cena, and the odds are against it succeeding, but at the same time, sometimes you just have to roll the dice. Using Mike Tyson was a huge financial gamble. Wrestlemania I was an even bigger gamble, as it could have killed the company, and instead, made the company. If Cena's movie flops, it will be very difficult for him to be the superstar they want him to be. The gamble is, if it catches on, he'll be seen as a much bigger star and cooler personality. Given WWE's track record with non-wrestling ventures (which is beyond awful), and that when wrestling was "in," Hulk Hogan, the biggest draw in wrestling, and Roddy Piper, who was near the top, both went into film careers. Hogan survived being a joke on the screen, but he was already an established super draw in wrestling. Piper maintained stardom until the end at WCW, but his movie career didn't make him a bigger star in wrestling, and his drawing power peak was all before he went to Hollywood. Neither were big stars in Hollywood, and they were the coolest wrestlers with huge followings when wrestling was in. Cena, like Kane, are stars with no drawing power within wrestling, when wrestling is cold. As far as the 2005 bottom line, the expansion into doing three movies next year has a lot of people concerned. The time is wrong to put wrestlers in movies when wrestling itself is so cold. The stars involved aren't even selling tickets when they wrestle, so how can they be expected to sell tickets in a movie theatre? And movies are a high risk venture and, while these aren't big budget movies, they are still $10 million investments that can easily be next year's version of WWF New York.

We've already seen the WCW pattern. Ratings fall. House shows fall greatly. PPV falls. Suddenly, even the live Nitros, Thunders, and PPV live events can't sell tickets. And things continue to fall. You shoot angle after angle and nobody cares. You bring back legends, but it doesn't work. Then you find good-looking muscular young guys as your new stars and even have the old stars put them over, but you're so deep in the hole that nobody cares, but the old stars know how to lose without putting people over. Morale is horrible. Long-term creative is thinking a week ahead. Angles that should draw are done with such frequency that they are killed, and nobody believes or cares about anything. Sound familiar?

Like a live Raw a few weeks ago in Madison Square Garden drawing 7,000 paid. Or a PPV live event in a city that was on fire like Portland, OR, drawing 6,500. Or a PPV hyped with a huge local media blitz, Taboo Tuesday last week in Milwaukee, drawing barely 3,500 paid, by far the smallest paid attendance for a WWE PPV show in history, and even at the end of WCW's run, their PPV shows were doing as well as that. The word from Cleveland is Survivor Series, one of the "big four," is on the verge of tanking. For a while, it appeared the declines had leveled off. But even in previous bad periods, the PPV events were always a hot ticket. Over the past year, the house show business has been consistently bad, but Monday Raws were a hot ticket and PPVs often sold out, and until recently, always did well. Now, aside from Wrestlemania, there is nothing guaranteed to be able to sell out a major arena. The idea of a sellout in North America for a house show is becoming an endangered species. PPV has not fallen like WCW, because the company has a long-time history of presenting better shows, most notably the main events that have more often than not delivered. Also, they are the only game in town, so there is no real PPV wrestling competition, only competition from big boxing and UFC as shows that do any real business, and neither have any affect on purchases of a wrestling PPV. The "bare minimum" of 260,000 buys has fallen to 190,000, and it won't get better until shows are of the caliber they once were. The big drops in the bottom number each took place during the period when they were promoting more than one PPV per month, over the summer (base falling to 225,000) and this month (dropping farther to 190,000). If there is one change that is really clear to me, it's that the experiment of doing two PPV shows certain months is going to be, long-term, a major mistake. Once people start skipping a show, and that is happening with sizeable numbers, it becomes easier to just save money unless something really strong is promised, and that's hard to do when you have the same headliner roster every month. You'd think with so many TV viewers, that just on a percentage basis, it will always be above the 100,000 buys range to where it's healthy, and with good TV and good shows, it probably would. But the lessons of WCW, falling to as low as 55,000 buys while still doing 2.5 ratings, tells you bad shows and bad booking can sink things quite a bit lower.

Worse, at this point, they aren't recognizing the problem. The 2005 PPV scheduled starts 1/9 with New Yew's Revolution in San Juan, a Raw show. Royal Rumble is 1/30 in Fresno. No Way Out, a Smackdown show, is 2/20 in Pittsburgh. Wrestlemania is 4/3 in Los Angeles. Backlash, a Raw show, is 5/1 in Manchester, NH. Judgment Day, a Smackdown show, is 5/22 in Minneapolis at Target Center. Bad Blood, a Raw show, is 6/12 in Detroit. Great American Bash, a Smackdown show, is 6/26 in Las Vegas, so that's three shows in seven weeks and I expect them to achieve a new bottom point at that time. Vengeance, a Raw show, is 7/24. SummerSlam is 8/21. Unforgiven, a Smackdown show, is 9/18. No Mercy, a Raw show, is 10/9. The plans for a second Taboo Tuesday have been changed, and they will have an as yet unnamed Smackdown show on 10/30, which almost has to be a Halloween theme (Havoc?). The year will end with Survivor Series on 11/27, which goes to Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in years, and the Raw Armageddon show on 12/18.

International is still strong, and it may be for a while. Even when business was weak in North America in the 90s, most of the international tours did great business, and WCW, even at the end when they were a joke, drew huge crowds in England and Australia.

But I've never felt such a malaise and lack of interest, and saw less that could turn things around. In that bad period, there were far more stars people cared about than today. The stars created in the late-80s were far younger. And while a new group of stars was created in the late-90s, the nature of so much in the way of television main events and not protecting stars in booking and portrayal has stripped most of them of the kind of marketability needed in a star-driven business. The excuses that The Rock and Steve Austin are gone, and reality shows have cut into ratings (the latter I think is total bullshit and the former misses the point that while things would be better with Rock and Austin around, we'd still be in a decline right now because they also would be stale from so many straight years if they were around all the time) sound good to outsiders, but the reality is different. By not elevating enough talent, and not creating enough new talent, combined with overexposure, things got stale. Anyone could have seen this coming three plus years ago, and many astute people in the business saw it in 2000, when numbers were still hot and the next generation was getting positioned as guys who were cool because business was hot, but no threat to the top, exactly how things were two years earlier in WCW. We're paying for not being able to follow the crazy falls and high spot oriented matches with a toned down work style. We're paying for running through so many ideas and angles so fast years ago that nobody cares about anything. We're paying for stopping people's ascension to where people stopped having an emotional attachment to them, which is needed for the top guys to do business. We're paying for people seeing so many variations of wrestling and now, when most of the variations are shunned and you only see the basic WWE style, things become too similar, even when they are done well. And wrestling, at least the North American version has always thrived on variety of characters and it's become a business of conformity. And there's always the humane reasons regarding talent that often result in declines after success. Successful companies don't want to put the people who worked so hard and so well for them on the unemployment line, since there are no territories to ship them out to. Success and stability breed an attitude where it is hard for newcomers to break through or to drop stale performers, because the stale performers have a track record of drawing and are better performers, but a fresh business needs to constantly turn over talent anyway.

WWE is still profitable, because of increasing prices, so what is happening is a far smaller base of fans is being asked to spend far more per person, higher house show prices, higher PPV prices, and more PPV shows, to support the machine. The 24/7 project is not going to be supported by a new fan base, although it will be interesting to see if they can garner interest from the departed fan base for nostalgia. But nostalgia has a short shelf life. What is happening with the loss of popularity and decline in numbers of fans and the reasons for the decline mirror similar circumstances after great success for Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW. The talent is largely a pat hand for years. And it's charismatic talent that was on fire during the good years. But it's the same guys against each other, and the only changes are babyface-to-heel switches, that often involve situations the public doesn't accept and don't work. Yes, Crockett ran up big debt expanding nationally and paying for so much TV time, but the crowds in the core cities were also dropping. WCW ran in even bigger debt with insane expenses, but what killed the company was revenue dropped when people stopped buying the PPVs, and going to the arenas. WCW's decline was sped up by producing horrible television, and also going against a cooler competitor with a new generation of younger stars that was blowing them away in competition. Crockett's decline came when there was a competitor that simply had more exposure and bigger stars, and the U.S. usually doesn't support what it considers a minor league brand. The fact WWE, with no competition, is losing interest every year is far more unsettling.

WWE is in no danger of disappearing with its huge war chest and well run financial side. But as WCW showed, having all the money in the world can't make a disinterested public care, or keep revenues from falling. Wall Street, which WWE has to answer to, will get very negative since it wants to see company expansion into new fields, and WWE never does well with that. They also want to see revenue growth, and doing so by adding to the number of PPV events is going to work against them in the long run. TNA is spending real money, and they can't even make 10,000 of the staunchest wrestling fans in the U.S. care. What concerns me the most is, in the past, so many people would come up with so many ideas to turn things around, and there were far more "wrestling" fans that enjoyed "pro wrestling" as opposed to simply WWE fans, losing interest in that product, and so few with any interest in anything else. While most wouldn't have worked, the fact was, some of them did.

Now, nobody is coming up with any ideas other than copying the past. When the New York audience booed the car crash angle at Unforgiven, you could see special effects is not what is wanted, and is being rejected. Well, especially when we've seen guys in car crashes many times over the years, and somehow, they survive without much more than a scratch. When great match after great match early this year on Raw didn't help ratings, you could see great wrestling matches wasn't going to turn this around, but at least people don't reject that. The company, whenever business is down, turns to big men, as we've seen by the new hiring policy, and who is being brought in. This happened in the 90s with the efforts to replace Hulk Hogan with Lex Luger, and using people like Kevin Nash, Yokozuna, King Mabel, Sid Vicious, Ludvig Borga, and Papa Shango in main event positions, none of whom drew, and with the exception of Nash, none of whom is even remembered well today, and none of whom was part of the company's turnaround (Nash was part of WCW's turnaround). The people who turned around the company were, for the most part, the great performers. They'd be better off secretly funding TNA to be a competitor, and slipping real talent to them that is stale, and helping them get real television and giving work and experience to young wrestlers, who could then be brought up having made at least a small name. They did some of that with ECW, but not in a way to help ECW much, and that's not happening today. When TNA went to McMahon a few years ago with that idea, they didn't call back. And as a public company and with a smarter fan base, it's hard to keep something like that on the down-low.

Is there a Mike Tyson or even a Dennis Rodman in sports today? No to the former, but as far as the latter, there is Shaquille O’Neal (a huge fan, like Karl Malone was), Kobe Bryant (a controversial figure who makes the news with everything he does, more than Rodman), and others just as big. Shaq & Orton vs. Kobe & HHH would be bigger than the Rodman-Malone show WCW put together and would get the public into it. But those guys aren't hurting for money, and would have to endure tremendous criticism for doing it (way more than Malone and Rodman took because wrestling was far more accepted by the public in 1998). It's not happening, but it would at least make WWE a topic of conversation again, but even that idea is a rehash of something from the past. And when they are done, it's still the same product. Rodman & Malone didn't help WCW one bit long-run. Tyson did, because Austin worked so well with him, and immediately had the program with McMahon to follow up with.

Also, unlike in the early and mid-90s, international isn't looking much better. New Japan is compared by Japanese in the know to WCW, with the frequent direction changes and no ideas, as well as now operating in the red. All Japan is a glorified independent with many wrestlers way behind on pay. Women's wrestling is almost dead now, and will be deader by the end of next year when the biggest women's group, Gaea, is no more. Pride doesn't have the drawing cards to make next year as successful as the past few, as the money players (Ogawa, Yoshida, and Sakuraba) aren't going to be major factors. K-l had business success with the Bob Sapp and Akebono freak show, but you can't follow that, and its strength now looks to be its middleweights. NOAH seems stable, as it does well on big shows, but its nightly business isn't strong. But its big shows have been carried by Kenta Kobashi, who in many ways is reminiscent of a 2001 Keiji Mutoh as the guy whose knees are shot who is gutting out great matches. But the long-run of that isn't pretty, as the 2004 Keiji Mutoh shows. They have a good product that satisfies its fan base by putting on largely strong big shows, but they have set the bar high, and have gone through every marquee match on top and have to look outside for fresh big show main events. Some look at NOAH's success in at least maintaining its level during a general downturn world wide as an example that if you don't insult your audience and give them a good product, you will do fine. Sadly, that's only the case when you've got stars, and Japan's future when it comes to new stars is bleak, partially because the TV audience is down, and the network shows, at 30 minutes airing after midnight, makes it difficult to create new fans and without lots of people seeing you on television, you don't create mainstream stars. Plus, PPV looks like it will never become a lucrative revenue stream in Japan for pro wrestling. Additionally, American culture can be exported all over the world and it's seen as a big deal. Japanese culture doesn't play well outside that country, making huge international business that is propping up WWE right now, next to impossible.

In 2005, if nothing else, the TV situation looks stronger for U.S. competition. TNA is at least on TV, but the TV hasn't caught people's interest. UFC will have some TV, a reality show right after Raw, and at least one live special on Spike TV although it will be two reality show fighter matches. The rating of that special is going to be very important to the company's future, as well as how the reality show goes over. UFC is a PPV driven business, and there are so many PPV events, that very few become special. Aside from Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell, there is no UFC money fight people care about for next year until they make new stars, and even that one is one that has been done before. Real Pro Wrestling will be on PAX, but that network averages a 0.5 in prime time and I shudder to think what it gets on a Sunday afternoon. And in what will be among the biggest news stories of next year, WWE will have some interesting TV negotiations.


Spoiler for 3/1/04 notes:
-With Rock's return imminent, people are anticipating the reaction he'll be getting since the belief is they've set the table perfectly for his return with the Mick Foley angle with Evolution leading to their tag match against Orton and Batista.

-The negatives going into Mania are the health of Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. Shawn has a torn ACL and Ric Flair has been off TV recently because he is far more injured than he is letting on. Flair has been working through an as yet undiagnosed neck injury and has a variety of back injuries. He's had both a CATSCAN and MRI done the last week, but both were inconclusive about his neck problems, which are believed to either be a ruptured C-8 disc or severly pinched nerve.

-Rock's return is scheduled for a surprise appearance on 3/1. If a story in a Samoan newspaper is true, he may have something of a different look. According the Samoa Observer, Rock will be getting the dangerous and traditional Samoan chief tattoos and actually should have them by the time you read this. It's a painful process that covers much of the lower half of his body. His grandfather, Peter Maivia, also underwent the tatoos as part of a ceremony. Samoa's leading tatoo artist, Suluape Petolo, left on 2/18 to do the job that takes several days and is exceedingly painful since no anesthetic is used. The tatoo is a traditional Samoan design from the waist to the knees using a multi-pronged needle tapped by a piece of wood to pierce the skin. Blood loss is a constant in the procedure, and there have been people who have died of infections in the process.

-Foley instructed Orton to bust his eye hardway during the 2/16 angle/beatdown. Orton had no experience doing so, so it was really risky because of the risk of effecting one's vision. Busting the bone above the eye with a bare knuckle shot is something old time wrestlers used to do for believability, but hasn't been a big part of the business since the 70's. The eye didn't get discolored after the beating, but as Foley likely wanted to, since the angle has been his creation from the start. Foley did an interview with Coach midweek, but Vince hated it so much he wouldn't let it air. He called Foley back a few days later and had Jim Ross do the second interview which aired. Foley is unique in that he didn't want to use makeup for the angle, but nowadays, when you can do it with makeup, is it really worth risking your eyesight when 75-90% of the audience thinks it's makeup anyways?

-WWE has talked about expanding to 14 PPV's a year and they've scheduled shows 2 weeks apart in June. This is an experiment.

-Upcoming PPV's are SD only Judgment Day from Staples Center on 5/16, which Meltz is guessing will be headlined by Guerrero vs Angle in a rematch if they can carry it that far. The program at this point isn't supposed to end at Mania. Like with San Francisco, the approach is going to heavily market the show to the Hispanic audience and put both Guerrero and Mysterio in top positions. 6/13 Badd Blood is all Raw and will be from Freedom Hall in Louisville. If 6/27 takes place, it will be an all SD show from Norfolk, VA.

-Bret Hart and Vince McMahon spoke on 2/20 to get Mania settled. Hart declined doing the show, so that should put an end to to those rumors. They left things open as to doing something in the future. Meltz thinks it has been inevitable for some time that Hart would at some point make one appearance on WWE television, but he can't imagine him ever coming back for a storyline.

-As was expected, Bruno Sammartino officially turned down the invitation to do the Hall of Shame...er...I mean Fame.

-Sources from New Line Cinema have said they are high on HHH and he will be offered significant movie work in the future. Even thought HHH has gotten positive praise from both the director and from those in New Line about his work on Blade:Trinity, he was not listed as one of the eight listed leads in the moview, which is scheduled for 8/13 release.

-There has been talk of using Jericho in the Freddy vs Jason sequel, but it's far from a done deal. There is now interest in Eddy Guerrero. If the ratings after his winning the title support him as a mainline ratings player, it would help his case.

-Goldberg began shooting "Santa's Slay". His new look with the bushy grey beard is for the movie role. Mania is still scheduled as Goldberg's last day. Meltz is guessig there is a plan to have Austin Stun Goldberg on the way out just to do it. Since Austin and Goldberg are friends, there isn't going to be any problems doing this.


Credit:Wrestling Observer Newsletter


Spoiler for 1/26/04:
It was reported this past week that UPN has renewed Smackdown, believed to be for more than one additional season to the current contract. The actual story is that the renewal took place months ago, but with every television contract, there are options in place. UPN basically has exercised its option for several more seasons for the contract already in existance.

The 2/7 show at the Saitama Super Arena is expected to sellout according to those in Japan. This is Steve Austin's first tour of Japan since he became Stone Cold. He had worked several times for New Japan Pro Wrestling during his WCW days including the now famous NWA Title Match with Masahiro Chono where he gave Chono a tombstone piledriver very similar to the one he got from Owen Hart, and started Chono on a career filled with similar neck problems as Austin. The 2/5 show at Osaka Jo Hall is also doing very well, but the 2/6 show in Hiroshima is said to be slow, and that's only a 6,000-seat arena. The Saitama show is already the most successful show the company has ever done in Japan and will end up being among the most successful, in terms of the live gate, in the history of the company.

Every major Japanese promotion, including K-1, Pride, All Japan, New Japan, and NOAH within the past two months has made some sort of a bid to get WWE talent for major shows in 2004. The company philosophy right now is to do one RAW and one Smackdown tour per year in Japan, and the feeling is that anything more than that would dilute the product. There is no interest in sending talent to work for Japanese promotions. Most have approached the idea of paying big money to bring in top stars to lose to native stars, which WWE isn't interested in. NOAH is attempting to get Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle for the Tokyo Dome show in August, but there is no interest. Pride wants a WWE representative in its Grand Prix tournament this year, Angle or Lesnar being the preferable choice. While nobody has released any figures, the guess would be Pride is willing to pay huge money because they know it would take that to get stars of that level to participate in shoot matches. But there is no way that is going to happen.

The scheduled card for Smackdown's No Way Out PPV on 2/15 at the San Francisco Cow Palace, at least as of this weekend, is Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Title, Big Show vs. John Cena for the U.S. Title, and Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero for the Cruiserweight Title. That was advertised locally and is the current booking direction. Given the huge success that show has been the past two years (2002 with Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, & Kevin Nash as the nWo's return and 2003 with Hogan vs. The Rock II and Steve Austin's return), I think we can all safely say this year will not continue that streak. One thing about the early part of the year, everyone both internally and externally who has talked about Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Cena needing a chance at the top, well, they look to be getting it.

Kurt Angle has been training in the ring with the guys at the tapings and has told people he's feeling fine. He had been cleared to return a few weeks ago, but the company wanted to be cautious with him. Angle was on a radio show with Mark Madden this past week saying he doesn't think his career can survive another neck operation. He said he won't be taking anymore chair shots to the head and said he would be slowing down his matches. Madden asked Angle about the 2004 Olympics, and Angle said if he competed he'd get his ass kicked. He said he started to train for it, but between knee, shoulder, and neck problems, there was no way.

There is a lot of talk about a Cruiserweight Battle Royal at Mania. This may wind up being a pinfall Battle Royal as opposed to an over-the-top-rope Battle Royal since a cruiserweight match of this type should involve flying over the top rope for offensive moves. At this point it's supposed to involve ten men, which include Rey Mysterio, Chavo Guerrero, Nunzio, Billy Kidman, Tajiri, Akio, and Jamie Noble. There was talk of having Dean Malenko come out of retirement for this match, but it's not looking too likely.

Paul Heyman is now a bigger part of the creative staff once again, but his duties are largely house show presentation. Jim Ross, Heyman, and John Laurinaitis are doing the house show booking with the idea of throwing in curves and interviews at the show to give it more of a television show feel.

Brian "Spanky" Kendrick came to work on 1/13 and asked for his release. As noted the past few weeks, he'd been concerned about the possibility of being fired, and after checking around, apparently felt it wouldn't be for the worst. He's already gotten his job back with Zero-One, starting on 1/31, which is also including working the Zero-One sponsored indie shows in the Northeast the next week. Kendrick had been offered a multi-year contract with Zero-One and was very close to signing at the time WWE made its offer to him. The company was very amicable about letting him go, and many sympathized with his position, realizing he and the cruiserweights in general are underutilized right now. He's already contacted TNA and it's almost a sure thing he'll be working there between Japan tours. They like him, but because Zero-One will be his priority, he'll be on a similar schedule as Low-Ki so he won't be pushed as the focus of the X Division. He may not be able to start there immediately as he has a 90-day no-compete clause, and no-compete in WWE's eyes of late has only meant TNA, but he's working on getting cleared for TNA sooner.

The plan is still The Rock & Mick Foley vs. Randy Orton & a partner, possibly Batista, for Mania.

The Rock donated $10,000 this past week for 30,000 pounds of rice, spam, corned beef, cooking oil, and other food for the island of Samoa which will be arriving next week, after the island was hit with a cyclone. Rock was contacted by his grandmother, former Hawaii wrestling promoter Lia Maivia, who now lives in a village in Samoa, saying the people in her area need food and he immediately wrote out a check to a supermarket in Kailua, Hawaii, to send food.

Regarding Mick Foley, the feeling among those who know the story and where it's going is that nobody in wrestling would be able to do this story without burying themselves but Foley. As mentioned before, this is a story Foley brought to Vince, and most if not all of the layout and the timing is his. One of the key parts of the story is to make Randy Orton a star, which the company needs, and really, Foley & The Rock need as well, because if people don't see Orton as a top guy, their return at Mania won't mean as much. The Orton/Foley vignettes on television have been tremendous.

After the show in Green Bay, Steve Austin stayed out for nearly one hour doing a post-match party with three curtain calls. He asked all the Packers at ringside to come in, and then called out Pat Patterson for his 63rd birthday. Most of the locker room came out while Patterson did his favorite deal at the karaoke bars and sang "My Way." Patterson jumped on Lillian Garcia and apparently he can get away with it. Austin drove Patterson to the back in his ATV, but then came back out and poured beer on Garcia for an impromptu wet t-shirt contest.

Eric Bischoff missed RAW last week because his mother is very ill.

Shawn Michaels was originally booked for RAW last week, but was allowed to go home because with HHH out (working on Blade: Trinity), they had nothing for him.

After the Carolina Panthers' win over the Philadelphia Eagles on 1/18 to get into the Super Bowl, defensive tackle Brenston Buckner was quoted in the Greensboro News and Record saying, "Whether you like it or not, learn to love it, because in the NFC, it's the best thing going today."

Because The Rock had mentioned in the past that he loves Dunkin Donuts, the company wanted to name a donut after him. There was a news item that said he considered it at first but then decided against it.

At the Smackdown taping last week in Minneapolis, Lenny Lane got a tryout dark match with Paul London. Crowd was very into the match with loud chants for Lenny, since he's from the area and had years of exposure in WCW.

It's a sure thing that Chris Benoit is staying on the RAW side for good. In Japan, it looks like he's wrestling Batista on 2/5 in Hiroshima, HHH on 2/6 in Osaka, and Kane on 2/7 at the Saitama Super Arena. It would seem likely that whether this takes place at Mania or not, that RAW's Backlash PPV would be headlined by HHH vs. Benoit, since it's being held in Edmonton. One would think they would book Benoit to win in that city, but it really means nothing if it's just like the Goldberg deal where the belt is loaned out so HHH can compile his own Flair-like record.

As of current plans, Edge is supposed to return shortly after Wrestlemania, so it looks like he's not making his March goal to appear on the big show. As of right now, he's planned for the Smackdown roster, but that could change. Edge has recovered well from his neck surgery and will be ready by early-March, so he could be on the show. The last feeling was that bringing him back at that point would get lost in the Mania hype for people like Mick Foley, The Rock, and The Undertaker coming back and they want his return to be a big deal.

Randy Orton needed six stitches to close the cut in the Rob Van Dam match at the 1/12 RAW. He was knocked out briefly in the match. RVD was all over him, apparently not realizing it. Most of this took place during the commerical break, which is why the match slowed down when they came back.

Steve Madison wrote this about a talk he got from Shawn Michaels at the 12/15 show: " 'WWE used to be a place where guys worked their whole careers to get to. And when they got there, they knew they earned it. Now, guys start their careers in WWE and don't know what it's like on the indies. They take it for granted what they have and that is our problem here. Cut their necks off and they all look the same: Bodybuilders, not wrestlers. Few guys can work. Steve, you honestly think Flair needs to be wrestling at 53? Yes, he does, because these young kids don't have a clue. We need at least a few guys who can tell a story!' And then he turned to me and said, 'Keep working in Japan and keep up the work on the independents. When you get here, you'll stay here and realize you've earned it.' "

At the Smackdown tapings, there was a kid with a sign that said "Vince = Steroids." Of course it was quickly confiscated. Lots of signs confiscated at RAW this week as well.

Reid Fliehr, Ric's 15-year-old son, who is a high school freshman wrestling varsity against almost all juniors and seniors, is ranked No. 12 in North Carolina in the 191-pound weight class with a 23-9 record. This past weekend he was competing in Tulsa at the nationals for the 15-and-under age group, which is considered possibly the toughest tournament in the country.

Garrison Cade's name has been mentioned along with Rene Dupree as those who the company believes will be stars down the line.

While no decision has been made, odds for Jeff Hardy coming back have warmed up of late. If he does, and it's not a done deal, it is being discussed for Smackdown to add star power to the cruiserweight division.

The Danville, IL News-Gazette had a story this week about referee Jack Doan. Doan started driving a ring truck in 1991 and helping set up the shows before hired to referee in 1992, and has been with the company most of the time. He took a year off because he had a family and wanted to be home more, but said he missed the rush of the show more than the money and went back. Now 32, he said his goal is to referee until he is 50 years old, and then try to get into coaching football.

WWE Originals opened in the UK at No. 11 on the charts for this past week. The U.S. first week won't come out until after press time, but industry sources said based on preliminary sales, it looks like the first week would do between 50,000-to-60,000 units. That is considered very strong for this time of the year (a weak time for the music industry), and early reports, and this was said on RAW, that it would debut at No. 3. The review in Rolling Stone was brutal, saying you'd think something like that would be comedy, except it's not funny, "and shockingly, much of it seems to be intended seriously." It said it could end up being the worst album of 2004.

The Olympic sports book has gambling on who will replace Lisa Guerrero on Monday Night Football. One of the women listed as a longshot was Stephanie Levesque.

WWE is allowing Billy Kidman and Charlie Haas to appear on 1/24 at the ECWA show in Wilmington, DE, to be inducted into that promotion's Hall of Fame.

There was only one Smackdown house show this past week because the weekend events in Minot, ND, and Grand Forks, ND, got off to bad advances and were canceled. It is now company policy that if it appears a house show will be a money loser, that it gets canceled and, if possible (and it wasn't this time), they try and book a new city.

Maven was back on the road this weekend, but was injured in his first match back in Des Moines. He beat Matt Hardy, but in the process of hitting a flying body press for the finish, his arm landed badly and he suffered an elbow injury, believed to be a radial head fracture of the elbow. He underwent surgery on 1/20, and looks to be out 6-8 weeks.

The upcoming Stone Cold DVD looks to be a tape of the UPN special, with additions of the 6/27/93, Steve Austin & Brian Pillman vs. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson 2-out-of-3 falls match for the WCW Tag Titles from WCW Clash 23 (which was Flair's first televised WCW match since returning from the WWF), some ECW promos and a 11/18/95 ECW match against Mikey Whipwreck, as well as the 12/18/95 debut match of The Ringmaster managed by Ted Dibiase against jobber Scott Taylor, better known today as Scotty 2 Hotty.

Test has been working with an abscess in his mouth.

The paid attendance for the 1/5 RAW tapings in Memphis was about 5,000 and for the 1/6 Smackdown tapings in Huntsville it was about 3,100. The 1/19 RAW show in Oshawa drew 3,600, the 1/11 Smackdown show in Cadillac, MI, drew 1,600, and the 1/11 RAW show in St. Johns, Newfoundland drew 2,100 (that is scary because Eastern Canada, because they go so infrequently and don't get much in the way of major league entertainment, has always been huge for WWE). This past weekend, the 1/16 RAW show in Des Moines drew 3,400. 1/17 RAW show in Madison drew 2,400. 1/18 RAW show in Milwaukee drew 3,500. 1/19 Smackdown show in Duluth drew 1,400. The 1/19 RAW tapings in Green Bay did nearly a full house while 1/20 Smackdown tapings in Minneapolis did about 6,500.


Spoiler for 10/4/04:
While the company is billing Taboo Tuesday as leaving the booking up to the fans, it is pretty clear, like with the Diva Search, that they know what they want and will be manipulating that final result.

As things stand now, the plan is to keep HHH and Randy Orton away from each other in a singles match until WrestleMania (unless HHH changes his mind and decides he wants a different opponent). Even though they originally announced Orton, Edge, Chris Benoit, and Shawn Michaels as the four people the fans can pick from (narrowing it down to eliminate the usual wacky WWE web site voting where a match like Tyson Tomko vs. Steven Richards gets tons of votes for best match on a PPV; in particular the idea Ric Flair or a goof vote like Richards would take over). At Raw on 9/27, they had a match where Batista beat Orton due to Flair hitting Orton with a chair, to eliminate him from contention. The company wants fans to pick Michaels, who HHH himself wants to work with once again, but they are willing to accept Benoit might win, and that's cool as well. The plan for Benoit is to team with William Regal against La Resistance, if they can get the voting in that direction. The other plan is to set up Flair vs. Orton in a singles match on the PPV. The new idea is to push Orton hard from this point forward, to make people want to vote for him to face HHH, but not be allowed to, with the idea it'll make them want the match even more as they hold it off for seven months.

After the Raw contender is announced, they will have a poll as to who Chris Jericho will face (I'm guessing Michaels, if Benoit wins, or Edge, if he's ready, or Christian, with maybe a wild card choice like Tomko who they hope nobody votes for); as well as for La Resistance (Hurricane & Rosey upset top contenders Rhyno & Tajiri on Raw, so they'll probably be figured into the balloting, which will be pushed toward Benoit & Regal provided Benoit doesn't get the shot at HHH). The Eugene vs. Eric Bischoff match will either be a loser wears a dress, the loser becomes the servant of the winner, or the company plan, which is a hair vs. hair match. You knew Bischoff still had dues to pay. They also will have a match where the fans choose what the women will wear. They also want to have a Carmella DeCesare vs. Christy Hemme match, which may be with that stipulation, or they may have a match with that stipulation involving the actual women wrestlers. As things stand right now, DeCesare is supposed to be used until 10/19, but she has not been offered anything past that point. There will also be voting during the show on who is the show MVP.
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An interesting guest backstage at the 9/21 Smackdown tapings in Phoenix was Rulon Gardner, who, because of his win over Alexandre Karelin to win the 2000 Olympic Greco-Roman super heavyweight gold medal in Sydney, Australia, is among the most well-known amateur wrestlers in the history of the country.

Gardner was there to talk about getting into pro wrestling after being invited down by WWE officials to open negotiations. After beating Karelin, there was dialogue, although exaggerated as to far it got, back in 2000. At the time, Gardner wanted to remain in wrestling until 2004, so he was only interested in maybe doing one gimmick PPV match at a high price. WWE wasn't interested because the price he wanted was so much. Gardner's career ended with a bronze medal in Athens, and his taking off his boots and retiring from amateur wrestling. He was one of the most publicized American athletes at the games, because of his great story where he came back from losing a toe while nearly dying in sub-zero weather when he got lost skiing and was left in the elements; as well as dislocating his wrist before the Olympic trials, and nearly not even making the team. He's been a regular on lots of talk shows, including Jay Leno. Gardner's background as a huge farm boy is not that different from Brock Lesnar, but they are very different. Lesnar had the great look, but was not a good talker. Gardner is a very eloquent speaker, which doesn't necessarily translate to wrestling promos, but is a good start. But he's not a muscular beast, and is your classic powerhouse farm boy, with deceptive strength and even more deceptive agility, but not the in vogue look. Also, his age is a factor, starting out at 33, as compared to Kurt Angle, who was 29 when he signed, and Lesnar, who had just turned 23 when he started at OVW. Gardner reportedly told WWE officials that he would listen to the offer, but needed to talk it over with his family before deciding, and didn't seem to indicate to anyone in the company that he was leaning either way.

However, others who have spoken with Gardner say he's very seriously considering the offer. Gardner was considered the biggest star what was going to be involved with the Real Pro Wrestling promotion that does its TV tapings 10/8 and 10/9 in Los Angeles, although he was not going to wrestle for the group, which would do real matches. Gardner was telling people that his mother was against him doing pro wrestling, but his wife was positive on it. Even though Angle won a gold medal, Gardner got 100 times the publicity for his, and was a much bigger celebrity coming out. There would be a small window where Gardner debuting as a pro wrestler could get the company some publicity, but that would only be if he's rushed (which the company's track record indicates he would be), and in that case, he's almost guaranteed to get off on a bad foot like Mark Henry.

Gardner had received offers from Pride (big money offers) and UFC, but had decided that wasn't a direction he wanted to go. As it turned out, also backstage at the show was Don Frye, who Gardner spoke with about his decision.
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The 9/12 Unforgiven PPV with the first HHH vs. Randy Orton match is estimated at doing 235,000 buys on PPV, or a 0.44 buy rate. That has been along the lines of all the recent singular brand PPV shows after Backlash, which has ranged at this point from 220,000 to 235,000 buys. So it appears we are at that level of core viewers. Keep in mind the original estimates for these shows are usually at least 10% below what the final number will end up being.

On one hand, the number has to be disappointing since the HHH vs. Orton angle was supposed to be a big one, and this did the same numbers as two shows headlined by JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero (220,000 buys at Judgment Day and 233,000 buys at Great American Bash), one headlined by HHH vs. Chris Benoit (232,000 buys at Vengeance) and slightly below another headlined by HHH vs. Shawn Michaels (264,000 buys at Bad Blood) in a Hell in a Cell match. However, it really is no surprise. The angle was rushed and there was clearly no buzz that the match was anything special, and live ticket sales in Portland, a strong market, weren't good. As of right now, as compared with last year's Unforgiven show, which did 300,000 buys for the match where Bill Goldberg won the World title from HHH, it's a drop of 21.7%.
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WrestleMania tickets sold out in just less than one hour when they were put on sale on 9/25, to the surprise of nobody. One of our regular correspondents was actually the next person in line when tickets sold out. There are still tickets available at inflated prices from scalpers, and for several thousand dollars you can get into the luxury boxes. For the first time ever, they are doing Raw the next night from the same building as Mania, and that Raw is already close to sold out. For some reason, WWE sent out a press release two days alter stating the show sold out the 15,000 available seats in less than one minute, claiming it as the fastest sellout in WWE history. There will be a limited amount of new tickets released for sale down the line. Even stranger, the release quoted Brenda Tinnen of the Staples Center as claiming that all ten previous WWE events at the Staples Center had sold out, which is hardly the case.

At the WrestleMania press conference, Vince McMahon said while there are 14 PPV shows per year, and four joint shows, Mania will be the only show which wrestlers from Raw can wrestle wrestlers from Smackdown. Other than that, everyone was in character and they teased HHH and Randy Orton getting into it.

As things are currently scheduled, the HHH movie vehicle, "La Jornada," is looking at being filmed in February. There is no Raw PPV that month, and WrestleMania isn't until April, so that looks to be a good time for him to be off for several weeks.

Here is some more background of the Eddie Guerrero/Kurt Angle situation. Guerrero complained that he thought Angle was disrespecting him in their matches. In particular, he thought Angle was working too stiff with him, and specifically noted Angle slapping him in the head hard a few weeks back when he asked Angle to stay away from his head. Angle did immediately apologize to Guerrero when it was brought up. Angle & Luther Reigns have also had troubles working with him because at times when he's down and selling and they try to pick him up off the mat, he refuses to let them. The incident itself was blamed on both guys being frustrated and Guerrero's nerves being frayed. Coming back from the airport in Tampa after Smackdown in Phoenix, on 9/22, Guerrero got in an auto accident, but his injuries weren't serious enough to keep him out of action.

Vince McMahon was listed as the 364th richest man in the U.S. in the current Forbes Magazine list, with an estimated worth of $700 million.

This past year's Mania will end up not being the biggest PPV event of 2004, as the Oscar de la Hoya vs. Bernard Hopkins fight is estimated at doing 1 million buys and grossing $56 million. Mania's current estimate is 885,000 buys. The show also did a $12.7 million live gate.

Kurt Angle did an interview for The Sun in the U.K., and mentioned HHH, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero as the best workers, Edge and Randy Orton as the guys coming on well and Christian and Jamie Noble as top workers who don't get the credit (the interview was done before Noble was fired). He also said the correct political thing, noting Undertaker and Big Show, who will be two of his biggest rivals going forward, as impressive big men. "But when it comes down to it, I don't think anybody has as much technique, credibility and charisma as I do. I have the whole package." He said his 2003 Rumble match with Benoit was his favorite match, although he also said it went 40 minutes (actually 19:48). But it was a hell of a match. In fact, people who saw the Benoit DVD all the way through, and you can imagine the quality of the matches on that one, said it was the best match on the entire DVD. He also has changed his feeling about long-term, saying he's going to be around for a long time to come. His answer used to be he was taking it day-to-day and hoping for three more years. He said he's going to work smarter, which he has been doing, and will not take any chair shots to the head (I wish everyone thought that like because mush brains in later life is not a good thing). He talked about toning down the style due to so many neck injuries. He said he'd never do anything like take a German superplex or do a moonsault off a cage again. He again noted he hated the G.M. role and said if he was asked to do it again, he'd turn it down.

Billy Gunn has been sent to rehab. He was found passed out in an airport a couple of weeks back.

This week's Tess Broussard (Steve Austin's ex-girlfriend) notes: According to a National Enquirer article that has been confirmed, when Austin met Broussard, she was advertising herself (all of this unknown to him) on the web as 26-year-old exotic Playboy model Tia (she would have been 36 at the time), and was charging $750 for sex. She also worked as a prostitute using the name Brenda Bing. She was arrested by undercover police officers in Los Alamitos, CA, on January 15, 2003, which would be around the time she met Austin. She was arrested at a Best Western hotel, carrying 113 condoms in her purse. She pleaded guilty last September, was put on probation, fined $600, and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. Broussard's attorney claimed she was the victim of an overzealous police sting operation and pleaded guilty only to spare her family the ordeal of a trial.

Speaking of legal issues, the lawsuit from many months back against Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Dustin Runnels, and WWE regarding the 2002 plane flight from hell has disappeared. Don't know how it was settled or if it was dropped, but it no longer exists.

John Laurinaitis is trying to start a new developmental territory based in Atlanta.

Hulk Hogan being positioned as a bigger deal than Steve Austin on TV was not deliberate, or something even thought about when the show was being laid out.

Kurt Angle, Luther Reigns, and Mark Jindrak are going to form a top heel group with a name, as Smackdown's answer to Evolution. Angle is going to have to be a miracle man to make that one work given Jindrak's total lack of charisma. At least Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, as Team Angle, turned out to be an awesome team.

Rey Mysterio & Rob Van Dam are scheduled to become a regular tag team, and are at this point at least, scheduled to get the tag titles at some point.

The Raw show had to be rewritten this week due to this week's communications snafu. Lita was supposed to be a major part of the show, but at first she had been told they were going to hold her off selling the miscarriage angle. Anyway, she was never told to come and wasn't there. The Raw writers blamed the Talent Relations department for the screw-up and Talent Relations blamed the Raw writers for it. John Laurinaitis was feeling the heat over it.

Jesse Ventura has been doing lectures as college campuses over the past week talking about politics, mainly saying he's not going to vote in the presidential election, that the two party system is evil and ripping on President Bush, saying he's sending people to go overseas and fight, which is something he himself wouldn't have been willing to do. He also said he was considering running for president in 2008. Well, as long as he doesn't run for talk show host, he’ll be alright. On 9/22, he was at the University of Illinois and wrestling came up. He was asked if he still felt as strongly about unionization of pro wrestlers and mandatory drug testing as he did a few years ago. He didn't answer, just saying he almost got killed trying to unionize wrestlers once, so he got his SAG card instead. When asked whose side he took in the Vince McMahon/ Bret Hart dispute, he said Vince, because Vince was the owner. Nobody can ever accuse Jesse of thinking deeply on any subject. Then, out of nowhere, he asked the crowd if they had heard of Ric Flair. The whole place started doing the "Whooo! He said that he estimates Flair has taken 27,000 backdrops during his career (three per match times 300 matches per year times 30 years, and granted, that math is faulty because Flair hasn't worked 300 matches in a year for just about the last half of his career). He said anyone who thinks wrestling is fake should chew on that.

The Mick Foley/JBL debate on 9/29 in Miami, the day before the first Bush/Kerry debate, was Foley's idea brought to Gary Davis of WWE. The idea was to debate Val Venis at first. As some people know, Venis is a staunch Libertarian and very smart when it comes to the subject, particularly when it comes to being strongly Anti-union. Foley's idea was a four-person panel of him, Venis, Chris Nowinski (legit left wing leaning Harvard grad who is said to be very smart politically), and someone else. Foley asked for Ric Flair, as he is very willing to do a debate with Flair, but doesn't want to wrestle him. Foley's children's book is being released on 10/18, so a TV return could be timed for right about then.

Raw in the U.K., which would be the first rating for the new Thursday night time slot, did 160,000 viewers. The show had been ranging from 180,000 to 210,000 on its traditional Friday slot, in the heyday, the show usually topped 300,000, and so while house shows continue to sell out in the U.K., the overall interest level has dropped significantly there as well.

As things stand today, based on what people understand about where things are scheduled, the WM top matches are supposed to be HHH vs. Randy Orton and Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle. There are no deals in place for big names to return, but those probably wouldn't even be thought about seriously until November or December.

At the WrestleMania press conference in Los Angeles, KMEX-TV reported that 40% of the fans there were from outside the Los Angeles area and they also reported 40% of the fans there were Hispanic. They said most of the non-LA fans were from San Diego, who said they specifically came to see Eddie Guerrero (who wasn't there) and Rey Mysterio (who was). They also said fans came from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tijuana, Tokyo, Vancouver, and San Francisco for the press conference.

Starting with the 10/25 show in Des Moines, Raw is going to have a weekly interactive element to the show.

For the week of 9/19, Smackdown was the No. 14 rated show in the U.S. among all shows on both cable and broadcast TV among teenagers, with 720,000 teenage viewers that week. Seventh Heaven on WB was the most watched with 1.19 million viewers. No WWE show made the top 30 in any other demo.

Bob Orton hasn't been asked to do the obvious angle, now that his son is a babyface, where Evolution beats him up. Orton, 53, has a bad disc in his neck and probably wouldn't want to be in a position to take much punishment.

JBL said in an article in the Wichita Kansan that he is considering going into Republican Party politics after his taste of being involved at the convention. He said his biggest concern is heath care and listed Ohio congressman Bob Ney as his political role model.

WWE has a registration system that will make it difficult, but not impossible, for a single person to flood the balloting for the Taboo Tuesday voting. Still, a recent WWE web poll had tons of people vote (although apparently that system didn't have the mechanism to avoid the flooding) for Steven Richards vs. Tyson Tomko as the best match at Unforgiven as a joke.

A correction on the deal we did about the youngest world champions. Besides Lou Thesz, Danno O'Mahoney, and Kerry Von Erich, another name forgotten would be Paul Wight. As The Giant in WCW, the Big Show was born February 8, 1972, and won his first WCW title from Ric Flair on April 22, 1996, on a Nitro in Albany, GA (at the time it was really controversial the idea of doing a title switch on a TV show), making him 24 years and 2 months old, meaning he was younger than anyone except Thesz, when he won his title at the age of 21 from Everett Marshall in 1937.

With Taboo Tuesday on 10/19, the Smackdown tapings for the 10/21 show will be taking place on 10/17 in Rockford.

The Raw show on 11/6 at Arena Monterrey has Shawn Michaels & Randy Orton vs. HHH & Batista in a cage match, Chris Jericho vs. Edge for the IC title, Trish Stratus vs. Victoria for the women's title, and fans pick the stipulations tag title match with La Resistance vs. Rhyno & Tajiri (choices being falls count anywhere, hardcore rules, or no DQ.

For November, the TV taping dates are Raws on 11/1 in Peoria, 11/8 in Corpus Christi, 11/15 in Indianapolis, 11/22 in Buffalo and 11/29 in Baltimore. The Smackdowns are 11/2 in St. Louis, 11/9 in Corpus Christi (same arena two straight nights), 11/16 in Dayton, 11/23 in Rochester, and 11/30 in Richmond.

Big Show did an interview promoting the Smackdown tapings in Wichita, since he played basketball (back-up center) at Wichita State at one point. He said his real weight is 470 pounds. He said he's looking to wrestle for five years after his current contract expires. I'm not sure exactly when it expires. He signed a ten-year contract at $950,000 per year in 1999, when Vince McMahon thought he'd been booked poorly in WCW and he could make him a modern Andre the Giant. Then, naturally, to make sure that didn't happen, in his first major match, he was pinned by Steve Austin on TV. As it turned out, McMahon's company did a far worse job of booking him than WCW. When it looked like he'd been a giant bust, they renegotiated his deal and cut a few years off. Show said that he recently bought a bus which is driven for him to his destination spot on tours. He flies to the city, and the bus transports him from city to city so he can avoid cities where he had to squish to fit into rental cars.

WWE has been having more problems with overseas continuity. They advertised on the TV shows this weekend No Mercy would be airing live on 10/10 (the show is on 10/3, and it is airing live on Sky Sports 2), and then advertised Taboo Tuesday as being shown live on Sunday, 10/19 (which is a Tuesday, hence the name).

Among ideas being batted around are a Booker T babyface turn on Smackdown, to join Eddie Guerrero & Big Show against Kurt Angle's group and William Regal going heel on Eugene. I don't think either is a definite, but the Booker turn is strongly being considered, I'd guess probably right after the PPV. They already tried it out at the weekend Smackdown house shows, as they had him work as a face against JBL. I believe John Cena is flying in from Australia just for the PPV, and will be flying back to Australia after the show. The reason "The Marine" and "Eye Scream Man" (Kane's movie) are both being shot in Australia is the Australian government is offering a great tax break to movie producers who shoot in the country. The Regal turn, based on last week, seems likely at some point. There was never a plan to make Regal a face and he didn't want to be one, but the crowds were cheering him so much that they went in that direction.

The reason the Bashams appear to be in the doghouse when it looks to how they are being used, is somehow they rubbed the wrong officials the wrong way when it came to asking agents questions.

Bubba Ray Dudley missed the weekend house shows due to problems at his home stemming from the hurricane.

For those who pay attention to these things, yes, there was a suggestion this past week to bring back Johnny Nitro as a babyface. You know, he's young, nice looking, and has a good body. Sometimes I want to scream at the incompetence.

Former UFC tighter Wes Sims was recruited by WWE for the Tough Enough contest. Sims is a huge wrestling. In fact, at the Smackdown tapings a few months ago when Eddie Guerrero stole JBL's hat, he was one of the fans spitting in the hat. He's 6’10’’ and about 240 pounds and a former college basketball player. He has a 4-5 MMA record, but because of his size and look, was signed to a UFC contract. His most notable match was being DQ'd against Frank Mir on June 6, 2003, for going crazy and stomping on Mir. He then played to the crowd and got into trouble with the commission, and he tried to explain it that he was playing heel pro wrestler and trying to get a deal. He was knocked out in a rematch with Mir, and after being knocked out by Mike Kyle on 4/2, UFC dropped his contract. As far as the 50 people being brought to Venice Beach on 10/15 for the tryouts to get to the final ten, Sims is said to be one of a few fighters.

After all the hurricanes, a lot of the Florida based wrestlers (which a lot of the crew are based on weather in Tampa, proximity to easier flights, and nice tax laws) have started thinking about moving out.

9/13 Raw TV in Seattle drew 5,500 paid and 9/14 Smackdown TV tapings in Spokane drew 4,200.

9/24 Raw house show in Sioux Falls, SD, drew 2,400 and $90,000. 9/25 Raw house show in Sioux City, IA, drew 3,500 and $120,000. 9/26 Raw in Columbia, MO, drew 1,600 and $58,000. 9/26 Smackdown in Springfield, MO, drew 1,500 and $50,000, and that's in a traditionally very strong mid-sized market that used to draw 2,800 every time out for WC W when it couldn't draw anywhere. 9/27 Smackdown house show in Joplin drew 1,700 and $60,000.


Spoiler for March 02, notes on Y2J's failed title run:
The reason why the handicap match of Triple H vs. Stephanie/Chris Jericho was changed to a 3 way match was to break up Stephanie and Jericho's "business relationship". This idea for a 3 way was the only plausible idea that the writing team could come up with to separate Stephanie from Jericho.

Many within the WWF believe that Chris Jericho was a complete failure as the Undisputed champion, blaming it on his style of wrestling and citing that he couldn't draw heat on his own. The reason believed for pairing Stephanie McMahon with Jericho was that Jericho couldn't draw the heat needed for Wrestlemania. Some say that the addition of Stephanie "saved" the World Title match at Wrestlemania.

There's an apparent feeling that nobody wants to say anything negative about Stephanie whatsoever in case it ever comes back to them since she's a major creative force in the WWF.

Word has been getting around about how many wrestlers Triple H badmouths at WWF production meetings, which I guess he attends when deciding what goes on the television shows. Any wrestlers who say anything negative about Triple H, whatsoever, will apparently be buried by Triple H at the meetings.

[ Credit: Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter ]


Spoiler for 12/23/02 notes:
Some notes from the latest Wrestling Observer:

Meltzer says the idea for Mania is to build up Rock v. Goldberg as the big Mania match this year. They are still negotiating but they are closer than ever before. The agreement would be for Goldberg to come in and wrestle two matches and get a huge guarantee. Both against Rock. One at WrestleMania and then a rematch at Backlash.

No mention of any other matches besides Angle/Lesnar.

The feeling about Triple H within the company is growing more and more consistent with the feelings the audience has about him. The agents feel his influence on RAW is one of the things killing the show but everyone besides Pat Patterson is afraid to speak out against the "son-in law." There is a growing feeling though that someone has to speak out.

Meltzer mentions there is talk of Storm and Regal getting the tag titles at a house show early next year and then air the match on RAW the next Monday.

The RAW on 12/9 was the first one in a while to show consistent growth throughout the show. But the first hour rating was the lowest for RAW in 5 years.

The Triple H/Jeff Hardy match and Flair/Michaels interview(which was put on at the top of the first hour after some combination of Jerichristian and Bookdust had the highest rated segment of the night in that spot for the last couple weeks) only added 147,000 viewers.

Meanwhile, the wrestling main event of Jericho/Christian/Victoria v. Dudleys/Trish was the hit of the night, adding almost half a million viewers in what is usually a weak timeslot.

The Triple H/Shawn Michaels over-run only added 130,000 viewers.

RVD/Batista added 1,000 viewers. Kane v. Samoans lost 41,000 viewers. The Tough Enough tag match added 160,00 viewers.


Spoiler for 2/1/03 notes (WM 19 card, WHO IS BURYING WHO):
Some notes from the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter:

The plans for WrestleMania right now are:
Rock/Austin in the main event
Vince/Hogan
Brock Lesnar/Kurt Angle
Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels
(no mention of Triple H's match)

The Goldberg/WWE deal started to go south when the WWE insisted that Goldberg agree to do 10 shows a month. Goldberg wanted to just wrestle the two matches with Rock and then disappear for 6 months. Negotiatons are now at an impasse between the two sides.

The WWE is also considering a change in PPV format according to Meltzer. After Mania, they would alternate PPV's between RAW and Smackdown. This way they could build up programs slower and more guys could be on the PPV's. Both brands would appear on the 4 main shows - RR, Mania, Summer Slam and Survivor Series.

Meltzer confirms the story that some in the WWE tried to bury Edge as a main eventer after his match with Albert at Armageddon. (This was said to be "spearheaded" by Triple H) Edge was then attacked again after his rematch with Albert on Smackdown for using too many punches and kicks even though he was told to be more of a fighter since this was a grudge match. Edge is back in good graces now though after his matches with Team Angle.

American Dragon is going to be brought in for more dark matches and tv jobs. But they want him to get a haircut and a tan.

Rhyno is supposed to join the RAW crew in a few weeks and possibly have a feud with Test.


Spoiler for 7/24/06:
WWE television in Canada:

When talking with TSN, WWE were unhappy with the prospect of never airing live and tried to force TSM to choose between Raw or Monday Night Football. It was an easy choice, as getting MNF was considered a big deal for TSN and Canadian ratings for Raw have been declining.

Officially, TSN cancelled Raw due to sliding ratings and issues over content, with Live Audio Wrestling reporting that two specific angles TSN took issue with were the Edge and Lita live sex show and the skit where HHH and Candice Michelle were supposed to be getting blowjobs while they were talking.

Some shows had been in the 4.4 range, but the 6/26 show got a 7.5 rating, which is considered very impressive for a cable show, and so the claim over ratings being the issue appears to be a cover for WWE having problems with not airing on Monday’s during Fall.

TSN reaches 8 million homes while The Score reaches 5 million.

WWE were happy to get the new deal, because after cancellation there was real fear of not being to get a new deal on such short notice.

Both TSN and The Score do a Sports Center-like show, and the ratings for the TSN version are 323% higher, which is pretty much how it is for all programming.

Most systems have TSN on a primary tier with The Score being secondary, though most dish packages have them together. Dave says that means being live on The Score is probably more negative than being on tape on TSN, but it was an example of WWE ego because Raw was moved around on TSN while it will be catered to on The Score, despite reaching far less homes.

Saturday Night’s Main Event:

Said if the first SNME was a ratings disaster, this one could be called a ratings nuclear holocaust.

The show did a final rating of 2.56, which is 4.13 million viewers. That is down 18% in homes and 19% in viewers from the first SNME. While summer can somewhat be attributed as cause of the ratings slide, that is still misleading because a lot of the viewers back then were people watching the NCAA tournament and fresher programming. The lack of competition should have, if anything, seen ratings stay near to the level of the first one.

SNME did a 1.8 in Males ages 18-34, which is what a strong Impact can get. The highest rated demo was male teens, with a 2.4. The show finished last for the night, and the 2.5 rating was almost exactly the same rating that NBC got for reruns in the same timeslot the week before.

Just about the lone bragging right is that the second hour was the highest rated hour in prime time on all four networks in the 18-49 age group, but that’s not really something to brag about as most viewers on Saturday night are older and none of the competition was first run.

WWE are privately putting the blame on NBC for not promoting the show enough, because they barely promoted the show after the first one performed so terribly, but a lot of prime time shows on NBC don’t get promoted well and they never do a 2.5.

The contract between WWE and NBC calls for at least four more specials by October 2008, but with how the first show did, NBC are considered to be chalking things up to simply fulfilling the contract and no more.

Dave says the real reason for the failure of the show is simply overexposure of the product; with there already being five hours of first run programming in the week, two more hours doesn’t seem special at all, even with the return of Hulk Hogan in what was clearly going to be an angle to get up his latest coming out of retirement.

It’s clear the general public has no interest in wrestling and that the business is surviving on its core fans, who it is risking burning out.

Hogan’s coming back meant less than Austin’s coming back four months ago, which could be down to him having just appeared at the HOF ceremony and his ‘reality’ show, because there is no curiosity to what he looks like or what he is up to. It could also be because people are resenting how blatantly obvious it is that Hogan is out there just to promote his daughter.

The show did draw a legit sellout, with about 14,500 paid.

The commercials were noticeably low-rent, with most of them being for NBC programs or Raw or ECW next week.

Said there was nothing that bad about the show, other than “the watered down DX interview and a Spirit Squad burial beyond belief”.

Said it more like a Smackdown than a Raw, but it had less time devoted to wrestling than Smackdown does. There were no matches that were good, mostly due to the ones that looked good on paper getting rushed. Said the show was overbooked to give as many people as possible exposure on NBC, when they probably get more exposure on Raw. All three announce teams got to announce at least one match, which was good to get them over as personalities, but was probably a major distraction for the average viewer.

Rough estimates as far as each segment goes:

The Smackdown match lost about 322,000 viewers from the Hogan segment.
Vince and DX skit + Carlito/Trish vs. Nitro/Melina gained about 322,000 viewers.
The beginning of DX vs. The Spirit Squad lost 161,000 viewers.
The end of DX vs. The Spirit Squad + the Undertaker/Khali/Show angle gained about 644,000 viewers.
The ending of the Undertaker angle, from the point he got physical to getting laid out, + Sabu vs. Richards + the Hogan/Orton parking lot angle gained about 161,000 viewers.
The bronco bull showdown lost 161,000 viewers.
Cena vs. Edge gained about 322,000 viewers.

The show appeared to be written with the idea of appealing to a lot of people who never watch wrestling, with all the introductory like promos and announcing, which probably wasn’t necessary.

There were a lot of statements made that Dave likened to “we changed the rules and got it regulated when we bought it in 2001”, statements, (This is in reference to Dana White’s press interviews about the UFC where he claims credit for a bunch of changes to UFC that happened long before Zuffa took the company over) such as;

Raw being the highest rated show in cable, when it’s very rarely ever the case.
ECW bragging being the highest rated cable show on Tuesdays, which is also not true.
The claim that with 686 weekly episodes Raw had more episodes than any television show in history.

Kevin Dunn first contacted Kevin Von Erich to come in for an angle where he would get laid out by Edge. Von Erich said he had no interest in doing that and that he’d on vacation with his family in id-July and wouldn’t even be in Dallas. Vince then called Von Erich up, apologized for Dunn, and was eventually able to convince Von Erich to make the taped appearance we saw on the show.

Said Hogan didn’t get a bad reaction but that it was nothing like he usually gets, especially with him being the first one out on the show.

Smackdown six-man tag: **. Little Bastard was called Damn Troll because they couldn’t use the LB name on NBC.

Said the DX/Vince skit was doubly lame, because they not only had to say “spank their bottoms” and because these “40-year-old guys acting like high school cool guys making fun of teacher visually gets worse by the day. It really emphasizes more how uncool the product is.

Carlito/Trish vs. Nitro/Melina: n/a

DX vs. The Spirit Squad: *. Said SS came across like 80s jobbers, with almost no offense and the match was mostly comedy spots with them playing the fools. Said there was nothing to the match at all, and that SS were on the verge of being hot when the feud started and now nobody takes them seriously, and the match only got a reaction for comedy spots or finishing moves.

Undertaker/Khali/Show angle: Said it looked better on paper than it came out and that Khali didn’t look impressive when next to Show.

Sabu vs. Steven Richards: ¼*. Said them calling Sabu “ECW’s Evil Knievel” made him cringe and he called it lame.

Said the Orton-Hogan angle in the parking lot came off better than it read and was probably the best piece of business on the show.

John Cena vs. Edge: *1/4. Said live reports had Cena getting 70% cheers and Edge getting 50% cheers. Said apart from the good final scene, the match was bad.

Other news:

The Spirit Squad were told at Raw they were being broken up. They’ll probably drop the tag belts to the Highlanders on the 7/24 Raw. Ken Doane is the only one with a solid new direction, but that is in doubt. The original plan was for him to get a strong push as a heel in ECW, but he’s been pushing to stay on Raw due to his relationship with Mickie James (they are engaged) and right now it’s better than 50/50 that that will happen. Dave said it’s sad because, despite the gimmick, they managed to get over to a degree and were a solid heel act but after the one-sided feud with DX and the total squashing at SNME it was felt the group had no heat left and had to be broken up. Johnny Jeter might not be safe due to his size. Mondo seems set for a Crash Holly-like role.

Lashley was set for a much longer run as US Champion. The title change was punishment for something and it was described as precautionary measure. Lashley was said to be unhappy with the decision.

Summerslam looks like: Hogan vs. Orton, Edge vs. Cena for the WWE Title, possibly Booker vs. Batista for the World Title (more on this later), Foley vs. Flair under hardcore rules, possibly Nitro vs. Carlito for the IC Title, maybe Show vs. RVD for the ECW Title and DX vs. Vince and Shane. Undertaker and Khali may get one final blow off match.

Thinks Matt Striker should be retooled as a heel manager because he’s a main event talker, but he’s not physically imposing and he doesn’t have the talent to overcome it.

Dave was told there is no plan for a Batista vs. Booker vs. Rey three-way at Summerslam.

The plan was for Booker to get the World title at the Bash PPV, but the plan was changed last weekend to him winning the belt shortly after at a Smackdown. It could also change again before Sunday.

John Laurinaitis is on a two-week vacation in the Bahamas, which might not be the best of ideas given that Vince never takes time off.

Michael Cole’s mood and attitude is said to have improved lately, which is being attributed to not being around Tazz anymore.

Joey Styles is said to recognize that how he was taught to announce and what he did in the past is not what they are looking for and he now just does what he is told.

The Miz got a lot of heat over his performance on the 7/10 Raw. The belief was that Miz was so intent on getting himself over that he forgot the stuff he was meant to push, such as the code number he had written down and even the website address (wwe.com). They had done a run-through earlier in the day and he had done fine there. The feeling was he a had a bad night.

Melina, who had a lot of heat with a lot of people, raised her rep after her performance on the 7/10 Raw.

The DX stuff has been toned down because Shawn has said that he doesn’t want to be a part of anything with sexual content. Many in creative want some sort of timeframe for the DX to end, with the belief that any more after Summerslam and it’ll get too old, but Stephanie is insisting on them being the focal point of things until at least Fall.

The 7/10 Raw went long, with the main victim being Orton; his match against Val Venis was meant to be a proper match but had to be cut to 13 seconds. His promo also had to be cut down.

Vince has ordered the merchandise department to stop selling the “EC F’n W” t-shirt. He said he found the shirt “low road” and “crass”, and that it would be a negative if advertisers found they were selling something like that. The reason for this is Dodge place an add on the 7/10 Raw, which is big deal as car companies had always avoided WWE programming because of the stigma. While WWE make no money from the ad and it was USA who sold the ad, it was considered a big deal perception-wise. Vince is now paranoid that someone will see the things they’ve been doing and they’ll lose a breakthrough like that and it’ll strengthen the negative perception the advertising community holds.

The DQ in the Sabu vs. Justin Credible match was done to show there are now rules in regular ECW matches, and was more of the mentality of rubbing things in the faces of fans who chant negative things during the show.

It was Flair’s idea to bump in the thumbtacks, as he thought it would help sell his Summerslam match with Foley because the two are meant to tear the house down in their hardcore match.

Flair taped a comeback promo on Foley on 7/10, for the one that aired that night, and Flair was said to be very excited about it because he had more feeling in it that anything he’d done in a long time. The line Foley used about imaginary tough guys was to set up Flair talking about Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen, which garnered a negative reaction from Brian Gewirtz because he had no idea who Flair was talking about. This frustrated Flair. And after all that, it never aired on 7/17 as planned.

The plan is to introduce Harry Smith into the Orton/Hogan program with the Hogan Knows Best episode where he dates Brooke. It may have been why they Haas/Viscera/Garcia angle was dropped, because it was too similar to this one.

Dreamer got a ton of real heat over his website comments concerning ECW, and how he was fed up about it and would get in trouble if he said what he was really thinking. He claimed it was pure storyline but nobody believed him on that. He’s now not allowed to write anything else on the site.

In Austin at the ECW show, Fertig had “Taker ripoff” chants directed at him.


Spoiler for 1/26/06 notes:
Thinks the new WB/UPN combined network is a big benefit for WWE for at least the next two years, as they signed for two more years, after which it could be anyone’s guess.

Thinks the deal will see more eyeballs watching Smackdown come the fall than are watching it now, unless they tank creatively.

Regarding Raw ratings, he was surprised at Monday’s rating.

He attributes it to Edge, Cena and Flair, with the biggest demographic growth in Males 35-49.

Says that Flair can raise the ratings but only short-term and is never the guy to turn a company around.

The plan was to bury Flair, and was mean to drop the IC belt to Trevor Murdoch but that got forgotten in the chaos of going to Afghanistan.

Flair was put in with Cena as a desperation move to get Cena over.

Believes Flair didn’t cut a promo on Monday because of fear he would overshadow Cena. They have no such care about Edge getting overshadowed.

The plan is for Cena to be ‘The Guy’, with Flair to be the set-up guy to get Cena over.

Still set to be Cena vs. Hunter at WM, but it could change by Sunday, at which point they should be set in stone.

Says Rey winning the Rumble is a distinct possibility.

Thinks they’ve crossed a line with the Rey story, because they can’t do it without Eddie which is a detriment.

Thinks WWE are unable pass up a chance to exploit a tragedy or story for gain.

Thinks it would be a mistake to take the belt off Edge.

Feels Hunter’s promo on Monday was Hunter’s way of letting people know Edge is just holding the belt and the position of Edge having to come to Hunter for help was more of making it clear that Hunter was the real star.

If Hunter beats Cena in Chicago, or even loses, Hunter will be the babyface, and Meltzer jokes that he’d like to see Hunter try to be a heel against Cena.

Thinks Shawn vs. Vince at WM will be horrible, and that Shawn would have to really pull out all the stops to get something out of the match.

Right now, Hogan has no role at WM, but thinks that come February, due to panic and Hogan’s show having a second season, they’ll try and put something together, possibly with Foley.

Dave calls the Rumble undercard horrible, with three possible winners of the Rumble match.

If the belt has to be taken off Angle, Meltzer thinks they’d go with Orton vs. Mysterio, and that there is a possibility of Henry getting the belt.

Called Vince’s speech to Shawn Vince being Vince, and that Vince is going nuts but nobody outside of the company really knows it.

Angle isn’t taking an MRI so they don’t have to face the results and can ignore it.

Calls Angle going to Dr. Jho a mistake and that it backfired.

Says The Spirit Squad laid an egg the first week. Thinks it’s a good gimmick for Mike Mondo, but terrible for Ken Doane or Johnny Jeter as they’re too good for it.

Says Heyman is less stressed over having to write OVW to WWE whims than Cornette as Heyman just sees it as what he’s got to do and simply tries to do his best with what he’s got.

Thinks some of the ratings increase could be down to TiVO and DVR viewing now being taken into account.

The quarter hour ratings, on Raw at least, have been more consistent. On Smackdown, the quarter hours are highest for Rey Mysterio, with them being “way above everyone else”.

The Bob Orton hepatitis deal is still an issue. Johnny Ace and Vince both knew, but nothing will be done because doing anything to Ace would kill his credibility and it would only be done if Vince wanted rid of Ace.

Said the Shawn vs. Benjamin match on Raw dragged a lot and generally found it boring, despite a couple of good spots. Said Shawn didn’t look good, and that he hasn’t in a while.

Dave sees WWE on a slight upswing which may not last, but they potentially have a lot going for them, including the NBC special.

Dave mocks the decision to have all the developmental guys cut their hair, and says it’s indicative of WWE only wanting one kind of look and says that so many legends would have been ruined in OVW were they there today, due to WWE only wanting that one kind of look.

Dean Visk was cut because of a problem between him and Ted DiBiase.


Spoiler for 1/31/05:
In an article in the Oakland Tribune this past week, Viacom co-President and COO Leslie Moonves was quoted as saying UPN would be dumping Smackdown when the current contract expires in August 2006.

"It still makes us a decent amount of money," Moonves said during UPN's winter press tour presentation. "When you think about the powerhouses of CBS and NBC on Thursday night, it's great counter-programming. It doesn't fit into the overall (programming) strategy."

There has been no other corroboration of this story at press time by sources within the WWE, and one would think a story of that magnitude in television would have gotten signifigantly more coverage. The statement was made just as Smackdown was in the midst of its strongest ratings run in more than two years and is, along with "America's Next Top Model", the highest rated show on the network. Even though UPN can't charge ad rates commensurate with the audience levels Smackdown gets, as the ad rates are among the lowest for any network show on network television, because the costs of doing the show are cheaper than regular programming, it is one of the few profitable shows on the network.

We had rumors dating back a few months of changes with Smackdown, and a few things Vince McMahon had said to various people, in hindsight, seems to indicate he was either aware of this, or at least being prepared for the possibility of it happening. McMahon had told people the 24/7 channel was very important to get cleared because in the event his programming is taken off of regular television, he needs a forum in place for his shows. Without television, pro wrestling in the US as we know it would die very quickly.

The story seems strange because even if UPN had made the decision, a network usually doesn't make public the cancellation of a show more than 19 months beforehand. However, Moonves said that UPN was going for respectability in the future, has a programming strategy of trying to become a strong network for women's programming (based around "Veronica Mars", "Kevin Hill", and the "Bad Girls Guide") and wants to continue heavily pushing shows catering to African-Americans. Wrestling, no matter what its ratings, is never considered repsectable in the TV industry. The McMahon's lowest common denominator approach to programming only makes a bad perception even worse. It draws a heavily male audience, but traditionally draws well with African-Americans, even though Hispanics are the demographic group that propped up the ratings during recent down periods.

Ironically, if this is to be true, it's the same decision making process that killed WCW, and on a regional basis, hurt numerous regional promotions, which dumped highly rated wrestling programming due to the feeling it cheaped the image of the station. In many cases, including TBS, it was the same wrestling programming being dumped, while drawing good numbers, that was the original flagship programming that built the stations when they started as major money losers and were criticized as bad ideas, and at times, faced near death.

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WWE's New Year's Revolution from 1/9 in San Juan, largely due to the Elimination Chamber gimmick, looks to be the company's third successful PPV in a row. The first estimates are the show did over 270 000 buys (.49 buyrate) for the event, where Triple H won the world title over Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Edge, Batista, and Randy Orton.

It was the first year for such a show, but it was even more impressive because it came just three weeks before the far more publicized Royal Rumble event. The 270 000 figure is highest for any singular brand PPV since Backlash this past April, which featured HHH vs Shawn Micheals vs Chris Benoit in a WrestleMania rematch plus Mick Foley vs Randy Orton, which is estimated now at 290 000 buys. Its original estimate was also 270 000, so this show will probably wind up in the same range.

It was the third ever elimination chamber match, all on the Raw side. The most recent was at SummerSlam on 8/24/03 in Phoenix, and to show how little things evolved in nearly 17 months, the participants in that match where HHH (who won it as well), Bill Goldberg, Jericho, Kevin Nash, and Shawm Micheals (who was referee this time). That show wound up doing 465 000 buys, which was also a success. The original one was 11/17/02, in Madison Square Garden at the Survivor Series. Micheals won that one (and the Raw title) which also included HHH, Jericho, Kane, Booker T, and Rob Van Dam. That did 460 000 buys. Of course, matches on the "major" PPV shows will almost always outdraw the minor ones.

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Raw on 1/24 drew a 3.83 rating and about 4.8 million viewers. The Ultimate Fighter, which followed, did a 1.36 rating and about 1.7 million viewers.

The households for UFC were slightly down for the debut, but total viewers were just about identical (more viewers per home it appears). Spide was happy, because the second week was up 22% from the first weeks in the 18-34 demo (both male and females were up an identical 22%), which is the demo the UFC and Spide are aiming primarily at for the show.

We don't yet have full details on either last week or this weeks Spike TV programming when it comes to weekend ratings and quarter hour ratings.

Smackdown on 1/20 drew a 3.6 fast national rating (which is usually within .1 of the final rating), putting Smackdown in 4th place among the six networks. We will hopefully get complete details next week.

The show did a 4.0 in New York (4.4 peak for Guerrero & Booker vs Bashams), 4.0 in Los Angeles (4.7 peak for Guerrero and Booker vs Bashams), 5.3 in Chicago (5.8 for ending angle with Show, Angle, and JBL), 4.4 in Philadelphia (5.4 peak for Guerrero and Booker vs Bashams), 2.8 in San Fransisco (3.0 peak for Guerrero and Booker vs Bashams), 3.8 in Boston (4.2 peak for Guerrero and Booker vs Bashams), 4.7 in Dallas (5.2 peak for Cena vs Suzuki), 2.7 in DC (3.8 peak for Cena vs Suzuki), 3.3 in Detroit (4.3 peak for Guerrero and Booker vs Bashams), 5.0 in Atlanta (5.9 peak for ending angle), and a horrible 3.8 in Houston (4.8 peak for ending angle).

Even though Guerrero and Booker vs Bashams, the opener, drew the high rating in most of the major markets, due largely to it doing terrible in DC (1.9 compared to 3.8 for Cena Suzuki), on a top 11 metered markets basis, Cena vs Suzuki was actually the peak with the tag match second and the ending angle third. Taking DC out of the mix, and the most popular segment of the show would have been the first segment, which is virtually unheard of.

Based on metered markets, because we don't have full national numbers, the big disaster would have been Akio vs Scotty, which lost an estimated 620 000 viewers. Segments featuring promos with Cena, Carlito, and Heidenreich gained an estimated 358 000 viewers. Cena vs Dupree gained an estimated 529 000 viewers. Misterio vs Chavo lost an estimated 560 000 viewers for the best match on the show. The ending angle where JBL's team and Angle's team beaut up Show after Angle's apology gained 374 000 viewers.

Raw on 1/17 drew a 3.8 rating.

The final number on the 1/6 Smackdown where a 3.49 rating, a 3.92 realistic rating, and 5.46 million viewers. For the 1/13 Smackdown, it was a 3.78 rating, a 4.25 realistic rating, and 5.95 million viewers. Viewership numbers are way up from recent montyhs. The 1/13 show was the episode with the Joy Giovanni kidnapping angle, although based on the ratings pattern with the early huge number, the ratings can't be attributed to that. It's hard to really know what it can be attributed to, but both weeks saw early Guerrero and Cena segments carry the show, so the most logical answer as to who is drawing the ratings movement right now seems to indicate those two. It was the highest rated episode of Smackdown since 4/18/02, which was HHH and Hogan vs Angle and Jericho.

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Austin and Vince did the media rounds on 1/19 after the press conference announcing the movie deal. Nothing really major was said. When the natural question about Austin wrestling was brought up, Austin said he felt he had maybe one or two good matches in him, so he's thinking along the lines of at some point wrestling. He's in the best shape he's been in for years. Vince on Best Damn Sports Show was asked about Hogan and the Hall of Fame and said they were trying to put it together but "no promises". The actual question was how could Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame but not Hogan. Vince said Rose was in the celebrity wing. When they were joking about celebrities that had done Mania like Rose, Tyson, and Taylor, Arnold joked that it was a prerequisite that you had to be arrested. He then asked who was go to do this yea'rs show, Vince talked about using Mr. T early on, but now the wrestlers were the biggest action-adventure celebrities in the country, and gave the impression they weren't even thinking in that direction. It was weird because Tom Arnold knew enough for inside humor (he and Vince were cracking on Austin's lack of judgment with blondes) and Arnold even brought up getting attacked by a blond in restaurants. I'm guessing 95% of the audience had no clue what they were talking about a lot of the time. Arnold wasn't wrestling savvy, as she showed a tape himself wrestling Puppet the Psycho Dwarf in a TNA match to Vince and Austin. He also asked about Rock, but who would know not to, because when it comes to wrestlers and movies, it is the natural question. Vince didn't seem to want to discuss Rock, and just half heartedly put over the work he's done, but then said he doesn't agree with the choices of the roles he's taken lately, specifically mentioning how Rock is playing someone who is gay in a movie, but said he played it very well. He gave the "we wish him very well in the future" line, which really should have been the tip off to anyone watching that things weren't cool, because that is company carny for "have a nice life". ... Regarding Vince and Rock, this may or may not mean Vince would no longer get Executive Producer credits in Rock's movies. Vince still owns the rights to the name "The Rock". He has leased the rights out to Rock, which was the deal Austin was wanting in April when he and Vince had their business impasse. Johnson is still allowed to use the name for any project he wishes without clearing it with the WWE. He still wants to transition himself to Dwayne Johnson, so I expect he'll use Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in publicity on this go-around. ... Eugene's injury was ruptured patella tendon. He had major surgey this past week and is expected out for about six months. ... Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry declared 1/24 as Jim Ross Day. "For any pro wrestling fan, Jim Ross is a household name," wrote Henry when the deal was actually sealed last month. "Much more than an acoomplished broadcaster, Jim has become such a fixture of proffessional wrestling that it's hard to image it without him. Oklahoma is proud to claim Jim as one of its own and honor him for all his accomplishments." Ross' family came to Oklahoma in the 1880s, well before it was even a state, coming from North Carolina with the Cherokee Indian tribe through land given by the Bureau of Indian affairs. Ross currently has homes in both Connecticut and Oklahoma. ... While apparently nobody is allowed to say at this point, there have been hints of Austin wrestling at Mania. Based on how the video package on Raw was put together, you'd have to expect him to be wrestling. Looking at the Raw roster, I'm going to make a guess if he does wrestle, the guy they feed him is Hassan. ... Hassan had his photo in the 1/31 issue of Newsweek with a story of how TV unfairly portrays Muslims in a negative light. The story itself didn't go after the Hassan character as much as the Arab terrorist family on the TV show 24, although the article did criticize WWE for presenting the character who verbally plays off of 9/11 and gets the crowd chanting "USA." ... The 4/24 and 4/25 Raw and Smackdown TV shoots in Birmingham, England, at the NEC Arena both sold out on 1/22, the day tickets were put on sale. ... Funny story of the week. After complaining for years that the Canadian fans need to move on and get over the 1997 Survivor Series, when Micheals was on Byte This this past week, he complained that the people who say the WWE should move on and get over constantly playing off the 1997 Survivor Series should quit taking wrestling so seriously. ... Yoshihiro Asai (formerly Ultimo Dragon) will be meeting with John Laurinitis when they come to Japan in early February. He was originally slated to return to WWE in September, and then December, with a new gimmick. But he hasn't been given a new start date. ... The neck surgery on Jesus (Aaron Aguilera) went well. He had a metal plate put in his neck to give it stability. There is no timetable for his return.

The first week of the new TV schedule in the UK ratings came out this past week. New Year's Revolution live had 250 000 viewers as a free TV special at 1 AM. However, the heavily publicized first ever live airing of Raw which now airs at 2-4 AM was a huge failure, getting less than 40 000 viewers. Sky did a ton of advertising for the new live feed. Taped airings of Raw on Wednesday in prime time did 80 000 viewers and Thursday had 60 000 viewers. In the heyday of Raw, they would routinely top 300 000, but lately it had been around 150 000. Smackdown did 150 000 on its first shows and 90 000 on the first replay and 70 000 on the second replay. WWE also had a five hour stretch with Experience, Afterburn, Bottom Line, Velocity, and Heat airing on Sunday afternoons, and none drew well. ... WWE has officially added a second Taboo Tuesday on 11/1, being that this past year's version was an overwhelming success. Yes, it will air on a Tuesday. I guess they've deluded themselves into thinking the bad buyrate was due to baseball competition and not that they ran a PPV on a Tuesday. Well, I guess they'll have to face facts this year. ... No Way Out will air as a free special in the UK on 2/20 on Sky Sports I at 2 AM. ... Foley, when asked about doing Mania on "Between the Ropes", said he is willing to listen to ideas but with rumors of Rock, Austin, and Hogan coming back (Rock isn't, and Austin and Hogan may have involvement but no guarentee either will wrestle), he'd rather be on a show where his appearance may make the difference between an average and strong buyrate. He said he'd like to do a long program, but doesn't know if he'd be able to get all the time like he got last year for the deal with Orton, but won't mind refereeing or being involved in some form. He kind of questioned how Orton was turned too quickly and talked about possibly teaming up with Orton this year. When asked about the deal with Flair, he said that if cameras had been there, they'd have gotten three WrestleMania main events out of it because Flair's promos on him were so good. Foley said he wouldn't get into a fight with someone Flair's age or someone he grew up idolized. He said he was open to the idea of doing a match, but again said he wanted to do something that would help the buyrate, not just do something that will interest people already buying. He said that after his angle with Samoa Joe in ROH with one minute of wrestling, he could barely walk the next day, and he's not in good shape right now and hasn't trained much since Backlash. When asked about wrestling Flair, he said he doesn't think it will happen but it's not an impossibility. ... For WrestleMania, we're told the decisions have been changed, and it will be Micheals vs Angle. I think much of the card will become clear at the Royal Rumble. ... Dawn Marie is pitching an idea to manage someone to get her back in the mix, which is pretty smart, because with all the emphasis on similar looking brunettes, Weber and Giovanni, on the show, she probably realizes she needs a TV role. .. There is a Raw and Smackdown tour of Australia in April. Raw has shows on 4/7 in Brisbane, 4/8 in Newcastle, and the big show on 4/9 at the Sydney Superdome. Smackdown runs 4/9 in Perth and 4/10 in Adelaide at the Entertainment Centre. Both groups will fly home from Australia and to television in the US both before and after. ... A correction from last week, the repeats of Raw and Smackdown in Australia are being repeated at noon, not midnight, Saturday for Raw and Sunday for Smackdown. First runs for the shows are Wednesday and Friday respectively at 3:30 PM. ... Billboard Magazine on 1/15 listed Jericho's Fozzy "All That Remains" CD as one of the picks of the weeks. Jericho's name is mentioned in the review, but it wrote of the band evolved from its original role as a goof on 80s hair metal music, and it now "exceeds that of some other rock acts currently cluttering the airwaves." ... The company is aware of the talents of Chad Wicks (Chad Toland in OVW) and he is under consideration of a call-up. ... Watching the 1/24 Raw show, it was one of the most amazing shows of the year, just because of the initial reaction of it not being about business but a battle between fans and the promotion over who would manipulate who becoming obvious. In fact, knowing where they were going, you can see the underlying theme of the show for almost the entire two hours was the company giving the live fans the finger. Batista vs Viscera was a risk on so many fronts. They kept it short so it didn't expose Batista, but it was on the verge of doing so. Worse, the last thing you need when you've got exactly one program on two shows that is really over, is to needlessly risk the key guy, who is older, very susceptible to injuries like muscle tears, and put him in the ring with a guy with a rep for hurting people, and who is gigantic and immobile but has to sell to make him look good. Well, they dodged a bullet there. ... The WWE broadcasts in Sweden have been drawing 35 000 to 55 000 viewers for Raw and Smackdown. Smackdown's numbers at this point are slightly higher than Raws. ... WWE did issue an apology to Victor Quinones over the incident at the PPV with Ric Flair where Flair got upset with Quinones over his feeling that the IWA owed his son $530 over not paying his son's medical bill when he needed to go to the hospital for stitches after a chairshot. ... We didn't get an attendance report on the 1/21 Raw show in Abilene, the 1/22 Raw show in Tyler or the 1/23 Raw show in Tulsa. 1/22 Smackdown in Amarillo drew 4000. 1/23 Smackdown in Tupelo drew 1500.


Spoiler for 12/11/06:
Heyman + ECW

1) Hardy Boyz vs MNM = ***1/4
2) Balls vs Striker = 1/2*
3) Terkay + Berke vs FBI = *1/4
4) Daivari vs Dreamer = DUD
5) Thorn + Ariel vs Knox + Kelly = -*
6) Elimination Chamber = **1/2

Before the ECW PPV Heyman and Vince had a meeting and verbally agreed that they should sever ties immediatly and Heyman would be fired. However, the next day Steph told staff that due to a conflict between her dad and Heyman they needed to replace Paul as head writer of ECW but they were going to find another job for him to do in the company. No one is really quite sure if Heyman is still employed at this point, but it should all be cleared up when Vince gets back from Iraq. Heyman was under the impression he had been fired on 12/4 but on 12/5 he thought that would still be employed but not as either talent or a writer.

Both sides blamed each other for the PPV. As Heyman came out for his pre-Main Event promo he was fully aware that the show had bombed and something major could result from it (like getting fired), but Vince felt it had been a decent show untill he became aware of the feedback the next day. At that point he blamed Heyman for getting the script in late and not giving him enough time to fix everything and the idea's that didn't work were Heyma's. Heyman though argued that the things that failed were changes that had been made to his script. Clearly though much of the creative was Heyman just as clearly some of the booking of the Chamber match wasn't.

Those within WWE cite several different things that lead up to the decision to send Heyman home. Firstly there was a feeling that the pressure of the new ECW was getting to him. Secondly he was blamed for Lashley's poor crowd reactions since he had pushed so hard for him to jump to ECW. Another story is that talent in ECW would go to Heyman with ideas and he would get back to them and say Vince didn't like it. But when the talent went to Vince he had no idea what they were talking about. Heyman also stood up to Vince about McMahon's idea of turning Van Dam heel after his suspension which didn't put him on Vince's good side. The arguement about Lashley not being over as a super babyface though doesn't really hold up though, as Heyman's plan was to turn Lashley heel with Paul as manager to re-create the Hayman-Lesnar deal from 2002, and build towards Lashley vs Van Dam or Punk at Wrestlemania. Vince was strongly against this as he sees Lashley as a potential superhero babyface. But on the day of the PPV Lashley was still telling people he was expecting to turn heel on that weeks TV.

The reason Sabu was not in the Chamber match was not because he's about to fired (although he's still in the doghouse) but because they belived that of the four babyfaces in the match (Sabu, Punk, Van Dam, Lashley) Lashley would be the least popular, which isn't ideal when he's going to be winning the belt at the end. Sabu being taken out was confirmed a couple of days before the PPV, but replacing him with Holly wasn't decided on untill the day of the show. That also influenced the finish of Lashley and Show being the last two in the Chamber as there would be no one there more popular than Lashley and try and make sure his victory wasn't a disappointment.

Heyman was also blamed for the show ending early, but that sort of thing goes through so many people that's very unfair.

There are lots of different stories coming from WWE about what Heyman's original plans for the Chamber match were. However, everyone is saying that Show had agreed to tap out to CM Punk's Anaconda Vice to get Punk over strong even though he wasn't going to win the title. There are then differing reports of when this would have been done. Some are saying Heyman's plan was for Punk and Show to open the Chamber and have Show tap after 4:00, which would give a minute for Show to leave and get a 'Thank You Show' chant or whatever from his hometown crowd as well as getting Punk over. Although Show was more than happy with that idea, Vince turned it down flat. Another version is that Show would eliminate Van Dam before tapping to Punk. Punk would then have been pinned by Test, would in turn would have been pinned by Lashley for the finish. This was rejected by Vince as it was felt it would be more helpfull to Lashley for him to pin both Test and Show.

If he is fired, it's highly unlikely he'll go to TNA as they are not going to want to disrupt the power structure there and Russo won't be sacked untill his terrible booking drasticly affects the Impact ratings.

The PPV drew 3,600 paid (4,800 total) which included a huge walk-up thanks to two days of Van Dam being in the market pushing the show. You'd have to go back to the Great Amercian Bash 1991 to find a live crowd more unhappy with the direction of the product they were paying for.

David Lagana is probably going to be the new ECW head writer.

It's hard to say who is responsible for the failure of ECW (2.79 rating to a 1.53 rating don't forget). Although Heyman was restricted from pushing Van Dam as the top guy, the pushes of Holly, Test and Mike Knox were his ideas and none of them got over as top talent with the crowd. Knox, a definatle Heyman project, ended up worse in ECW than he had been in Deep South. Punk, Heyman's other big project, as he's the only sucess the brand has had in making any new stars. They stylistic changes to make the product more WWE-like with the DQs etc were not his ideas. It's hard to pin point who made the call for the production changes (although all would have been confirmed by Kevin Dunn) but the darkening of the arena was a bad mood as to modern fans it made the product come across as cheap.

Although the WWE had pushed the idea of doing ECW live every week it had fallen back on doing taped shows, and due to the ECW audience being more internet friendly taped shows had tended to do about 15% worse in the ratings than the live shows. Another major difference in the inital succes and now is that they now longer do Monday-to-Tuesday booking were the ECW mian event angle would be built up on Raw the night before. The most fans ECW was a distant 'C' show that was promoted more strongly than Velocity. It's audience consisted on the hardcores somehow clinging to the idea that their old ECW still existed and the significant number of WWE fans who will watch anything do to with the company.


Financial Report

For the quarter than ended on 10/27 the company grossed $96,236,000 and posted an after-tax profit of $10,396,000. Last year in the same quarter they grossed $88,933,000 but made a profit of $11,702,000. In the last quarter they grossed $93,267,000 and made a $11,302,000 profit.

The profits didn't cover the $17,174,160 paid out in dividends, including the $12 million paid out to Vince. Also not included was about $4 million more in production costs over the quarter for 'The Condemned', the first of three movie deals signed for Steve Austin. They have spent about $18 million on this so far, compared to the $23 million for 'The Marine'. At this point the company has spent a total of $52,827,000 on its three movies, and aren't expecting any income on these untill 2007.

Because of these factors the company has $252 million on its balance sheet as opposed to $267 million at thet same time three months ago.

PPV was a mixed bag in the last quarter. SummerSlam did 528,000 buys wordwide, Unforgiven is listed at 290,000 and No Mercy at 195,000.

In terms of the core US and Canadian markets for those three shows compared to last year the company has gone from an estimated 702,000 buys all together to 700,000 buys this year, at a higher average price, which has to be looked at as a success.

House show gross revenue was $17.6 million for the quater on 101 live events which breaks down as 63 Raw and Smackdown US and Canada shows, 27 ECW shows, and 11 international shows. Last quater was $15.9 million on 86 events, which was 75 Raw and SD shows, 8 ECW shows and 3 international shows.

The 90 US House shows averaged 4,000 paid attendance and $144,000 per show. Keep in mind the WWE includes PPV event house show gates.

Even though there were more live events merchandise sales dropped from $4.7 million from 86 events last quarter to $4.2 million from 101 events this quarter. And last quarter didn't have the foreign shows to boost the average. Average spending at a house show is $11.2 a head.

Televison rights fees were $21.8 million for the quarter, down from $22.2 million the previous quarter.

TV ad revenues were $1.5 million, up from $1.1 million.

DVD sales remained at $14.5 million for the quarter. The biggest seller was the Hulk Hogan Anthology which sold 200,000 units.

Licensing was up from $5.6 million last quarter to $7.3 million. Smackdown vs Raw wasn't released untill after the end of the quarter, so there should be a huge increase here in the next report.

Magazine revenue went up from $3.1 million to $3.4 million.

Internet ad revenue was up from $2.1 million to $2.7 million.

WWEShop orders online went up from $3.3 million to $3.6 million.


TV Ratings

Raw on 12/4 did a 3.7 rating.

Smackdown on 12/1 did a 2.8 rating with 4.71 million viewers. The show did a 3.2 in New York (3.9 for Dave vs Finlay vs Booke), 3.2 in LA (3.5 for Guerreros interview), 4.2 in Chicago (4.8 for opening promo), 2.5 in Philadelphia (2.9 for Taker vs MVP), 2.2 in San Francisco (2.8 for Taker vs MVP), 1.3 in Boston (1.6 for Dave vs Finlay vs Booker), 3.5 in Dallas (4.0 for Dave vs Finlay vs Booker), 1.8 in DC (1.9 for Benoit vs Guerrero and Dave vs Finlay vs Booker), 2.9 in Detroit (3.4 for Taker vs MVP), 3.7 in Atlanta (4.2 for Taker vs MVP) and 4.5 in Houston (5.5 for Dave vs Finlay vs Booker).

Segment gains and losses
MNM vs London + Kendrick - 239,000
Dave vs Finlay vs Booker + 590,000
Chavo + Vickie promo - 84,000
Benoit vs Chavo - 211,000
Layla vs Marshall - 109,000
Taker vs MVP + 449,000


General

Piper's cancer was caught early so it's not as bad as it could be. If you want to send Piper a get well card the address is

Roddy Piper
18645 Southwest Farmington Rd.
PMB 12 Aloha
OR 87007


The company is planning a relaunch of its website over the next few weeks. According to an article in TV Week they are going to change the focus from promoting the brand to being an entertainment site. They are planning online made-for-broadband TV shows ranging from 90 second to 20 minutes in length, such as the 'McMahon's Ass' cartoon and well as putting up matches up for PPV buys. Tom Barecca who runs 24/7 and is in charge of buying tape libraries will be running it.

Everyone is now pretty much against buying Pride. Even Shane, who is a MMA fan now has a negative feeling to the idea. The WWE though does recognise the value of the Pride tape library and would be interested in some of the fighters. Basically they want the heavyweights who have 'the look' and also those they feel are marketable characters, such as Bob Sapp, Tank Abbott (!) and Butterbean. They don't believe that the lightweight fighters will draw and although they'd use them they'd never give them a chance to be anything other than what they'd allow pro wrestlers of that size to be. The only person in the company though with any MMA knowledge though is Shane, but even he is a big casual fan who thinks he's an expert as he feels he's a tough guy and likes to talk to Taker backstage about MMA. Shane even used to tell Ken Shamrock when he was in WWE about how he'd be able to do well in UFC as he's tough and won a few fights as a kid.

The 11/8 to 11/15 European tour was the company's most successfull overseas junket in history, grossing $8,000,000 for 16 shows, including topping $1,000,000 for both shows in Manchester, England.

As well as a bad back and knees, Big Show has been working on a hernia that needs surgery and he knows he needs to drop 100lbs. His contract expires in February but the odds are good he'll work Mania. Since he and Hogan are friends they are planning to negotiate a package deal with Vince for the match. If he gets a Hogan-like deal, like Mick Foley got, he'd work the major PPV's of the year he'd do it, but he has no interest in going on the road full time. If WWE don't give him the deal he wants there's also the outside chance of going to TNA to take advange of their light schedule.

Van Dam though has expressed firm interest in working indies and TNA when his contract expires in a few months. As things stand he is not expected to sign a new contract, but things can change. He feels he's never get any chances do to will in the company after the refusal to go to Iraq again and the drugs bust.

There were some long-term booking discusions that went all the way to SummerSlam 2007. The company has given up on Austin working WM this year although they are expecting him to be part of the show. Hogan vs Show is still pencilled in and will be confirmed one way or the other in February. There are no definate plans, but Cena is probably going to go into Mania as champion and the two favourites to get the challenger role are... HHH and Randy Orton.

Flair could well return on the 12/18 Raw. His divorce proceedings are due to end on 12/15. If not he will be on Raw on 1/1.

'The Marine' is now at $18,605,662 domestic and $1,054,324 overseas.

The WWE mentally of signing people who look great and then teaching them to work is now official company policy instead of just being what they do. They feel that likes of Edge and the Hardy's who'd drive 700 miles and sleep in their car while getting bookings for no money are a dying breed so there's no point looking for people out there who can work and have a decent look. Under Jim Ross the idea was to try and get people with real athletic backgrounds as they would have a good look and the mental toughness to surive on the road, but that's no longer the case so the odds on them getting another Angle, Lesnar or even Lashley are slim. Laurinaitis is now looking for good looking guys or bikini models. The prototype they're looking at is Cena who was signed in this manner, although Cena was actually a fan growing up thanks to his dad, and was a Division III college lineman.


Spoiler for 6/26/06 notes:
Dave called Monday’s Raw “funny as hell” and that the return was just as over, with HHH and Shawn, as DX, refreshed, but Dave also questions how long it can last.

Dave brings up a point he’s mentioned a number of times before, that when he first saw the DX entrance on Raw he knew WCW were in trouble.

The internal reaction to the show was that it was a success, but there is a lot of skepticism as to how far it can go, with the general feeling that revivals like this work for the first few weeks but then it fades fast. Dave mentioned it brings a reminder of redoing the Freebirds in 1990 which was a big introduction and some funny interviews, but after that was just a midcard act.

One reaction, though, was consistent; with HHH turning 38 next month and Shawn turning 41 (he’ll have turned 41 by the time you read this), by all logic they are too old for the roles they are playing. Dave says they need a hot program, which would likely build to a match with the McMahon’s at Summerslam and then move on after that.

One insider said that Shawn isn’t comfortable with his new role, as he feels people will see it as a contradiction of what he’s been preaching the past few years. That was played into when HHH brought out cheerleaders to take their tops off, but first put a blindfold on Shawn.

The show was written specifically for HHH to get all the funny lines and Shawn just to react to them.

Dave said that the Raw was close to the type of Raw that put it on the map as something other than Monday Night Wrestling.

Dave felt it was great TV for numbers, which he wrote before getting the rating.

Dave said what killed this type of television was advertisers pulling out, which isn’t going to happen today, as WWE doesn’t have the enemies it used to.

Dave also thinks they went through so much material in one night that they may burn out.

Talking about the return to MSG, Dave says WWE can’t make the profit they can running at MSG than they can at either Nassau Coliseum or the Continental Airlines Arena, and he thinks it was the fact they have a live Raw on that date as the reason they wanted to run Manhattan.

Vince was furious about the negative reaction to the debut ECW show. During the agents meeting, Vince’s reaction over the first TV show was that he didn’t realize that the ECW brand was ‘tainted’, and that the Hammerstein crowds weren’t an indication of where the overall popularity of ECW really stood. Vince now feels that they can’t build from that base crowd and now have to build using the WWE audience.

Paul Heyman pushed for more creative control on the second show, and because of the reaction to the first show, they mostly went with his script. He booked the long tag main event of RVD/Angle vs. Edge/Orton to carry the show, and he put Mike Hettinga (Mike Knox) on the show to get him a role quickly, as Heyman is a big a fan of his. The idea is for Knox to get a big rub right away from having the super hot girlfriend.

From the meeting, its felt Vince as already written off the original audience coming back to be built on.

Sabu’s attitude, which caused some initial worry, has been considered excellent since coming in. It is possible he realizes that this is his last chance to make good money so he’s changes his attitude. The original idea was for him to get an early push because he was an ECW name with nothing planned long-term. His work with Cena has been much better than anticipated, and Sabu has also clicked with the main talent that is willing to work with him and treat him as main event wrestler. Sabu is also considered the top new player.

Dave says it’s amazing that, when looking back, the two guys who caused Jim Cornette to go ballistic and then get fired, Kevin Fertig and John Carelli, both get their careers saved by Heyman.

Shelly Martinez was originally going to be Paul Burchill’s valet but that idea got scrapped. Her tarot card reader gimmick is a concession to Sci-Fi.

At one point, Tim Arson (The Zombie) was also going to be The Cook, as spoof on The Food Network, as a character for Sandman to come out and cane.

The 7/4 taping at the old ECW Arena was moved to the Wachovia Center, which hosts a four-hour plus Raw/Smackdown taping the night before. The ECW show will have one hour of dark matches and then a live one-hour show. The only vague reason given was that it would cost too much to upgrade the ECW Arena to do a good quality taping, and it would save money to move to the Wachovia Center. Dave thinks they will load up the Raw show and shoot a big angle as well, but questions how much walk-up business they’ll do the next night when they come back to the same building. Dave thinks they could do enough to turn people away at the ECW Arena, which they could trumpet on TV, but that same crowd at the Wachovia Center won’t look good on TV. Dave speculates it could be that with the Raw guys working ECW, they don’t want to make them look ‘cheap’ by working in an “Indy looking building”.

More on the firings of Dustin Runnels and Mikey Batts; Dustin missed the 6/12 Raw due to a court appearance to do with his ex. At that show, it was decided to fire him, as it was assumed he missed the date for the same reason almost everyone else misses shows. Runnels said he attempted to call the office ahead of time, and when they found out why he really missed the show the heat was then for not telling them ahead of time. Runnels was desperate to keep his job, to the point where he even said he would work for free for a month, but Vince made the call to fire him. With Batts, it’s stranger. The official reason was that he wasn’t improving enough, wasn’t dedicated and his size. However, the whispers are that it has do to with other things. When then newest Venus Swimwear models (one of whom debuted on ECW) were brought into OVW, talent relations gave word that nobody was to mess with them. Nobody could figure that one out, given that every woman who shows up in wrestling hooks up with someone, and nothing was said about the other women who have come to OVW. The problem came when at least two guys hooked up with the new women, and on 6/10 word came down that somebody was going to be made an example of. Then Batts was let go. That isn’t the official reason, but people are putting the timing down to it being the real reason.

Why that sort of thing gets heat for one person but not for another is the idea that if you are a star then it’s expected for you to get a hot girlfriend, but if you’re not a star then it’s frowned upon, more so if it’s felt you’re flaunting it.

Instead of WWE getting preempted for the US open this year, Raw will air from 2300 to 0100 on 8/28 and probably the next week as well.

The Miz will host the Diva Search this year,

Dave liked JBL commentating on Smackdown, but thinks he talks too much and can get repetitive. Dave also thinks his ant-foreigner and anti-gay tirades will get old fast, and brings up that JBL was anti-foreigner with Sylvan, who is Canadian but JBL called him French, but wasn’t anti-foreigner with Regal or Finlay. Dave said he hopes JBL is not a one-trick pony, but for the first time out JBL was great.

Dave thinks Regal and Finlay should be the tag champions, and that they could be the best tag team in the company in a long time.

Said you could tell that JBL’s commentary on Matt Hardy was managements opinion of Hardy, and that it was 14:00 of non-stop “he cried on the internet about losing his girl”. Dave also said that Hardy is not getting a push no matter how much the crowd pops for him and that management just won’t push him.

Vito is now wearing his dress at the airport and on planes.

There was talk of Justin Credible forming a new Impact Players tag team with a new partner, but it was first mentioned a few weeks ago and hasn’t been mentioned again since.


Spoiler for 2/23/04 notes:
The booking for WrestleMania is starting to come together with a couple of strong RAW programs in recent weeks. The 2/16/04 show was strong in setting up fans wanting Mick Foley to have a partner since he continually is getting the beat-down from Evolution. At first I thought there could have been better usage of The Rock. Between Foley’s work in laying the program out and Randy Orton becoming a superstar in front of our eyes, this program seems to be gaining a lot of steam.

There are a lot of different theories on booking, and the Shawn Michaels pinning of Chris Benoit on RAW, after distraction from HHH, has been questioned. There is a general booking philosophy that if somebody is about to win a world title, you beat them once or twice before winning, to set up immediate challengers when they get the belt. However, that rule doesn’t always work out. If you have a weak challenger, and by weak, I mean someone who isn’t long-term established as a main eventer and championship caliber, that doesn’t work, because losses to top guys more emphasize that they aren’t at that level. Not that this was the turning point, but a big mistake in late 2001, was when they were going to have Chris Jericho be the surprise winner of the Undisputed WWF Title tournament, a few days before, Steve Austin pinned him clean with the Stunner in a TV match. Instead, what it did was establish that Jericho was the weak link in the four-man tournament. Even though Jericho beat Austin and Rock on the same night, and beat Rock and Austin second times on the following PPVs, a lot of people never saw him as a champion (how he was portrayed once winning didn’t help matters). With Eddie Guerrero, before winning the title, on SmackDown!, he pinned Brock Lesnar in a tag match. I thought that was necessary because I think a lot of fans really didn’t think of Guerrero as someone in the league with Lesnar, since he had never had a high profile title challenge, or even a PPV main event, and people had seen him on a national basis since 1995. By beating Lesnar (which probably should have been done a few weeks earlier and pushed every week after that point), it at least left people with the visual that he was in Lesnar’s league and it was a real title challenge. Of course, in the long run, that made no sense, because his pin was never referred to once on the PPV, while Tazz was put in the role of trying to say Guerrero had no chance to make it seem like a bigger upset when he won. The only problem was, they had already seen him win three days earlier. This comes from one set of people writing one story, and another set trying to have the announcers tell the opposite story.

With Benoit again, a challenger who has only had one singles PPV main event in his WWF/E career, and that was way back in 2000, he wasn’t in the position that, say HHH, would be in a few weeks before challenging for a title he was going to win. The loss certainly makes it expected Benoit will win the title at Mania (then again, Booker T. for a time was going to win the title from HHH at Mania last year and we saw how that ended up). If it is a Ladder Match, which hasn’t been announced, it leaves things open-ended, as he’ll climb a ladder, but not pin or make either guy quit. Really, just through traditional booking, the SmackDown! side has months worth of PPVs coming off this. Benoit can win at Mania, and then go into Edmonton as champion. Because it’s Canada, where it is very easy for Michaels to be a heel because the people naturally hate him anyway, Benoit vs. Michaels is easy to set up by Michaels’ win this past week. In Edmonton, the perfect finish is Benoit winning with the Sharpshooter. With Edge switching over to RAW, and Edge having to make an impact right away to get him up and running, he should beat HHH on the same show. That makes sense since HHH is a long-established headliner, who can still get a title shot as the former champion. Since we all know HHH is getting the belt back sooner than later, when that happens, he’s at least made Edge ready to theoretically headline, possibly at SummerSlam in Toronto.

A Japanese publication, but the rumor does make sense based on the angle where Bill Goldberg accidentally speared Austin, listed Austin as the referee in Goldberg vs. Lesnar.


Spoiler for 4/5/04:
With company stock closing at $14.40 per share, Vince McMahon's stock in the company has a paper worth of about $788 million. The close on 3/30 was the highest in more than one year. The increase, besides the increase in the market in general, is because a few analysts covering the stock have listed it as a buy, being underpriced based on the profit margin over recent quarters (and that was with underestimating this upcoming quarter). There is also the belief among analysts things are turning around. While there is no question there are signs of short-term gains, and I don't consider Mania because that was expected, but in the long run, and I'm thinking 2004 and 2005, it's the constant creation of new stars, and that's a subject we've been through.

The 4/18 Backlash show in Edmonton is now Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. HHH (last I heard it was going to be a ladder match but that hasn't been announced officially), Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley for the IC title in a falls count anywhere match with Evolution barred from ringside (they need to explain this as barred from interfering, because presumably much of this match won't be fought at ringside), Kane vs. Edge, and Chris Jericho vs. Christian. While this isn't going to happen, if they are serious about the Shelton Benjamin elevation (and they are or they wouldn't have done it), they should add him to the main event. Logic says if a contender loses, the guy who beats him should be in line, or at least announce that Benjamin gets a shot at the winner on Raw the next night to make the win over HHH mean something more than The Hurricane's win over The Rock did in the long run. Since the show is in Edmonton, it would be ridiculous to have any winner other than Benoit. HHH's movie filming, I believe, starts in late-April so he'll be gone for a while after the PPV so his winning would be illogical as it would ice the belt. Michaels winning in Edmonton just doesn't make sense. I presume HHH gets the belt back either in late-June or at SummerSlam.

Some of the new booking ideas for Smackdown are a Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty vs. The Dudleys program over the tag titles with the Dudleys eventually going heel before the Los Angeles PPV. The Mark Jindrak pairing with Teddy Long that we mentioned last week is on, as is the John Cena vs. Rene Dupree feud over the U.S. strap. That match, as well as Chavo vs. Mysterio for the cruiserweight title, is both tentatively planned for the Judgment Day PPV. Kurt Angle is on the road full-time as G.M. There is also a plan of making Funaki a heel manager for Kenzo (Kenzo Suzuki). His first program may be with Billy Gunn, and I'll bet anything that one is a disaster waiting to happen. After the first TV, there were already people second-guessing the Eddie Guerrero vs. John Layfield PPV main event direction.

Randy Orton had a tonsillectomy on 3/19 which is why he missed Raw last week and the house shows. He won't be wrestling for a few more weeks but will be doing TV.

Raw crowds have been noticeably up, but there has not been the same increase evident in Smackdown. An interesting note this coming week is the 4/2 show in Hidalgo, TX, which I believe is a 7,000-seat arena, is already sold out. They sold out their first time in the building, but it was thought at the time to be for Guerrero and Mysterio, since it was a total Hispanic audience. But they drew a return sellout with a brand that includes no Hispanics.

Lots of character changes without actual turns. On Raw, Lance Storm is now a heel, Matt Hardy is now a face (which was really weird since they wrestled each other on Heat this weekend and played their new roles) even though people largely have been reacting to him as one all along. Storm did a heel promo on Raw, but that was more to establish Rhyno as the face probably than to get his own character over, since 35-second squashes really help get the person over being squashed. Shelton Benjamin, Chuck Palumbo, and Rhyno are all pegged as faces without turns, although with Shelton Benjamin they at least went all the way with him on the first TV. All were playing their new roles at the weekend house shows, although in the case of Rhyno, it backfired since it ended up with fans cheering Kane. Nidia is still a babyface, and was switched because she wanted to develop more as a wrestler. And she decided this after getting those enormous implants.

The 6/13 Bad Blood PPV, scheduled as a Raw brand show, has been moved from Louisville to Columbus, OH.

The company's marketing department is apparently of the belief that William Regal will never return to wrestling. Those who know the situation best say it is still up on the air, and if Regal's heart problems can be taken care of, he will wrestle again, but right now nobody knows for sure if or when that will happen. Regal wrote a book, which apparently was very interesting. I would have thought he has the potential for a great book with his experiences in the game since breaking in working carnivals as a teenager and just being an intelligent guy, which he is, and working for WCW is a book right there, not to mention his battles with drug addiction that nearly killed him, coming back, and his current health woes. The release of the book has been stalled for some time, because they wanted him back on TV first. Anyway, because they now no longer expect to bring him back as a television character, at this point it may never be released in the U.S. The U.K. branch of Simon & Schuster is trying to convince the U.S. branch that it could still be a viable project for that market, but no decisions have been made.

The numbers listed last week for Brock Lesnar when it came to strength, speed, and dexterity, were top-of-the-line numbers for a 285 pound lineman. They were equivalent to what the top draft choices coming out of college were putting up, but the difference is, they also had years of football experience. Bob Sapp was another guy who had excellent speed for his size coming out of college, but wasn't a great player. He was still drafted in the third round coming out of college because people saw his numbers and saw potential (you know, the football version of Lex Luger or Sid Vicious), but he never panned out. I know of one team that this past week got a tape from Lesnar's people showing him training and doing the drills and the G.M. wouldn't even look at the tape or give it a thought. The feeling is he'd be, at best a several-year project and at 26, it will be hard to find many takers willing to take that risk. But athletically, he's at the level of the top guys in the league his size.

Before Wrestlemania, when The Rock agreed to return, he and Pat Patterson (who guided Rock's career as a wrestler) proposed to Vince he wanted to come back for a dream match. He suggested Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, and Randy Savage as potential opponents but McMahon wanted him in the match with Mick Foley. Goldberg had his thing to do and McMahon wasn't even interested in discussing using the other two. He told friends he loved doing Mania, but it felt weird because he sees himself as the same person and he knows everyone, but so many of the people in the company and even wrestlers were wanting to get their picture taken with him and it was weird to him. Rock has earned $33 million in his last three movies. While The Rundown was not considered a box office success, its video release this past week was a big success, as it sold 1.5 million units in its first 24 hours of release. Rock did a million interviews this past week. In the Newark Star-Ledger, when asked if he missed doing a full-wrestling schedule, he said, "It's tough. There's no seasons. It's a year-long grind. Do I miss the grind and being tired? No. But I miss the road and camaraderie you have, not only with guys you travel with but with just being on the road, being in your favorite hotels." When asked about Lesnar, he said, "He's got a shot. I admire him. It's a tough move to the non-guarantee of the NFL. Brock is a great athlete, but the odds are against him." When asked about if there are banned substances and drug testing in wrestling, he said, "I don't think so. I've never been tested." Rock came out for the strongest drug testing possible for baseball players when he's been asked, but didn't for wrestlers (Mick Foley has for wrestlers, and they are probably the only ones who publicly could say that and get away with it). Rock also made an interesting comment in the Boston Globe regarding his return at Mania. He said that when he came back, he found that not everyone in the WWE was pulling for him. "I don't get that from the entire crew, just a handful of guys, who, interestingly enough are at the top now. But most of the guys are genuinely excited. They come up to me, and they're like,' Hey, I saw The Rundown. Congratulations. But you're going to get negativity from some people. That's just the nature of the business." Now everyone is going to be trying to figure out what he means. I know Goldberg, Foley, and Steve Austin consider Rock as their friend. I would strongly presume, based on what he's said and how Rock helped his career, that Chris Jericho would as well. Rock's current schedule is he's working on the movie "Be Cool," where he has a supporting role playing a large gay Half-Samoan in a movie starring John Travolta ("Get Shorty” sequel), then in July will be the top star in "Spyhunter." His own project he wanted to star in, where he would play the lead role in "King Kamehameha," is scheduled for shooting in early-2005. He's considering for later in 2004 doing a movie called "Skiptracer," which is a comedy written by Stevie Franks (who wrote "Big Daddy").

Maven has fully recovered from his knee and elbow surgeries and will be headed to OVW to get back in working shape.

Matt Morgan has been sent back to OVW full-time, as they've acknowledged he was called up too soon. Worse, he got a lot of negative reviews when he was up as there are those internally who think he's a slow learner, after first getting a rep as a quick study.

Jon Heidenreich has disappeared because of an injury.

The debut in Mexico on 4/3 at Arena Monterrey is scheduled as Benoit vs. HHH (managed by Flair), Chavo (billed as Chavo Guerrero Jr. because his father was pretty famous in Mexico) vs. Mysterio (not billed as Rey Jr., even though his uncle is also pretty famous) for the cruiserweight title (this is a special Smackdown match to get a Lucha-Libre flavor on the show), Shane Michaels vs. Kane, which is billed as a match to determine the No. 1 contender, Chris Jericho vs. Christian, Batista vs. Matt Hardy, Victoria vs. Molly vs. Jazz vs. Lita, Rhyno vs. Garrison Cade, Tajiri vs. Val Venis (who was well known in Mexico years ago as Steele, and held the world heavyweight title in Mexico for five months in 1997 before joining WWF), and A-Train vs. Shelton Benjamin.

Nick Dinsmore was given his new character this weekend on the Raw tour. He's called "Eugene," and plays the role of a backwoods hillbilly goofy babyface billed from Louisville. It's a total comedy gimmick, based on the Dustin Hoffman character in the movie "Rainman." Well, they are only a decade late. He's actually supposed to be a cross between that character and the old Mighty Igor character of a simpleton with superhuman strength he doesn't realize he has. The idea is he stops in the middle of matches and waves (ECW acid blowout brains Spike Dudley), and runs around shaking hands in the middle of matches. He's supposed to dress all funny, come out with one boot untied and things like that. They're clearly trying to make fun of someone, but I'm not yet sure who. The plan was to already introduce him doing TV vignettes. They were filmed, but then the decision was made to tweak the character so they may be redone. It's funny because basically everything Dinsmore has learned about wrestling over the years has to be thrown out the window, as they don't want him doing anything mechanically sound and nothing but comedy. As a babyface, and he did get over as that type of character always does (your Bushwhacker, Hillbilly Jim style character that the crowd responds to but doesn't sell tickets, not that anyone else does these days). Surprisingly, he jobbed to Garrison Cade at the weekend Raw house shows, as that type of character should be put over early in the run. People also reported he was managing Tajiri, which made people think at first he was a heel. Actually, people weren't supposed to think he was managing Tajiri. The idea was he's so stupid he came out when it wasn't his match. The reason on OVW they started teasing problems with Dinsmore and Impact & John Laurinaitis was when the decision was made for the gimmick, it's a way to explain that Laurinaitis now hates Dinsmore for screwing up and is making him do this gimmick to make sense to the OVW audience.

Wrestlemania drew 450,000 TV viewers in the U.K. (they got the show for free on Sky Sports), making it the second highest rated show of the week on the station, behind a live soccer match. Velocity, which aired before Mania, did 160,000 viewers. The Raw which aired two days before Mania did 290,000 viewers. The early 90s episode of WCW World Wide Wrestling, which is marketed as WWE Classics, drew 30,000 viewers that week.

WWE had actually decided to merchandise a Trish Stratus t-shirt that read "Blow Me" and was on the European version of shop zone web site. Due to complaints, the product has been pulled. How did it even get that far?

The company received the "Legacy of Hope" USO award on 3/23 at a USO dinner in Washington, DC, for the company's frequent visits to military hospitals and running the wrestling show in Baghdad to entertain the troops. Mick Foley, Linda McMahon, and HHH were at the dinner accepting the award for the company. Thankfully, nobody at the dinner was aware this was the same company planning to market a "Blow Me" t-shirt.

Soccer star Kieron Dyer Of Newcastle United, who John Cena mentioned in his rap when they were at the show, was shown on Smackdown in the film footage of the tour. He was the guy thumb wrestling with Torrie Wilson.

Eddie Guerrero's neck has been bothering him the past week. Rey Mysterio was also shaken up, while Big Show's back is bothering him again.

WWE has its first shows in Italy in more than a decade was the Smackdown crew runs 6/3 in Milan and 6/4 in Pesaro.

The company has inked some new international TV deals. Raw and Velocity have been cleared in Portugal. A one-hour weekly version of Smackdown was cleared in Greece. Raw, Smackdown, Velocity and Heat were all cleared in Romania.

Famous boxer Vinnie Paz (formerly Pazienza), who announced his retirement on 3/27, has told friends that WWE made him an offer to manage the FBI. However, they wound up being far apart on money so it didn't happen. If you recall, he was the ref in the 1999 Wrestlemania match with Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn from Philadelphia. He didn't know the match was a shoot until he got there that day, and went to Butterbean, and asked what the plan for the finish was. Butterbean looked at him, his manager, at him again, and then walked away. He talked about how all the wrestlers before the match were joking about how Bart Gunn was going to knock Butterbean out.

The Dudleys got heat with the Smackdown crew on their first night in, because Bubba has a rep for working stiff and there was a feeling D-Von took liberties with the Bashams the first night in. There is the feeling that'll end in a hurry because they won’t work like that with Rikishi & Scotty because of Rikishi.

Chuck Palumbo had heat with several in the Smackdown crew who were happy to see him switch over.

Tim White is needing another shoulder operation, which would make the fifth one. He hasn't refereed since doing the Jericho/Christian Mania match.

Catching up on the business notes: the paid for the Raw after Wrestlemania on 3/15 in East Rutherford, NJ was about 12,500, although it was sold out. For the Smackdown in Boston on 3/16, the paid was about 4,500.

The U.K. numbers were 3/18 in Newcastle doing a sellout of 9,300 and $600,000. 3/19 in Sheffield did 10,700 and $650,000. 3/20 in Aberdeen Scotland was a sellout 4,300. 3/21 in Glasgow, Scotland, was a sellout 5,200. The company did $1.82 million for the four dates not including merchandise, so it was a big success. The only domestic house show from last weekend was 3/21 in Fort Wayne, which drew 3,300.

The 3/27 Raw show in Cape Girardeau, MO, drew 3,400. The 3/28 Raw show in St. Louis drew 8,900 fans and $285,000. There was a lesson in this one, which this exemplifies one more time. This was, I believe, the biggest crowd for a domestic non-TV event in months, probably dating back to the first show in Portland about a year ago. It went head-to-head with the NCAA basketball tournament game which drew 30,648 fans to the TWA Dome, and was just one week after the NCAA wrestling tournament in the same building 87,675 fans over six sessions. The point being, if business had sucked like it did six months ago and it would have drawn 3,000,people would have used both of those things as an excuse, and probably buried whomever booked the city on that date. But the truth was, neither would have had anything to do with it. It's the second example of this in recent months. Raw was on a Monday night in the fall, in Chicago, going head-to-head with the first Bears game ever at the new Soldier Field, and this came at a time when attendance was at rock bottom. However, the show ended up drawing the largest paid crowd for a Raw event in months. The attendance is determined, 98%, based on how hot your product is on that given day, and every other excuse is just that. 3/28 Smackdown brand house show in Tampa drew 3,200. 3/29 Raw TV shoot in Cincinnati drew about 9,000. 3/29 Smackdown brand house show in Louisville drew 2,700.

In Cape Girardeau, Benoit beat HHH again with a crossface, even though Batista tried to interfere. Said to be a great main event. Christian beat Jericho with Stratus distracting. There wasn't much else to the show. Tajiri debuted and beat Hardy, while Palumbo beat Conway on his debut. Coach did the m.c. work. After Benjamin beat Horshu, making it three Smackdown wins in a row, Coach said the streak would end, and put Kane out against Rhyno, and, the streak ended. Tajiri played heel, making Hardy the babyface. Tajiri won the match. Kane worked as the face against Rhyno. By the way, that wasn't the plan, as they expected, since Coach did a promo backing Kane, for the fans to cheer Rhyno, but they didn't. They tried to do it stronger the next night.' They did the spot where Benoit put Coach in the crossface before intermission, and he came back after intermission doing the announcing with his arm in a sling.

St. Louis was largely the same show. Benoit beat HHH in another strong match, with the same attempted Batista interference. The only change in the show is Flair worked, and teamed with Batista over Hurricane & Rosey. Flair had his trunks pulled down, so I guess the deal from a few weeks ago where they didn't want Flair to do that in title matches anymore because they didn't want comedy in title matches is over. Flair was treated as something of a local legend since, with the exception of the Carolinas, he's been coming to St. Louis longer than any other city. Rhyno tried to play babyface with Kane, saying Kane needed an "ECW-style ass kicking." Still, the crowd cheered Kane all the way.

Tampa saw Guerrero beat Show in the main event. After a ref bump, Show used a choke slam. Angle, who is touring as G.M., hit the ring and counted, but Guerrero kicked out. When Guerrero came back and had Show pinned, Angle turned around to tie his shoes. Guerrero then knocked Angle out of the ring, hit Show with a belt, used a frog splash, and the original ref counted the pin. After the match, Guerrero brought his two daughters into the ring as the crowd cheered him. One goof then threw beer at them from the bleachers and got it all over Guerrero, and just missed his daughters. Guerrero went on the mic and said the guy had no class. The crowd turned against the fan, of course, and everyone pointed him out to security. The sheriffs, told him that if he apologized to Guerrero, they wouldn't press charges for drunk and disorderly against him. Guerrero came back out for the guy to apologize to him. But Guerrero first told the guy he had no class and then the guy threw his hat at Guerrero and started swearing at him. Guerrero jumped the rail and was going after the guy. People were keeping them separated including some of Guerrero's friends who were in the stands. Guerrero and the fan were yelling at each other by this point when another fan blindsided the guy who threw the drink. The guy who threw the beer ended up arrested for drunk and disorderly. The guy who punched him was handcuffed, but was let go in the parking lot. Cena pinned Dupree in the first match of their program, as they'll be working nightly. Rikishi & Scotty beat Dudleys, who worked as heels and will be turning. Booker T came out as a heel saying how much better Raw competition was. Undertaker than came out and beat him very quickly. You can really see why Lesnar left after how badly Booker was squashed. To feed Undertaker, after the match they had the Bashams and Dennis "Mideon" Knight do run-ins and Undertaker choke slammed all of them. They teased the Jindrak and Long pairing as Long was scouting Jindrak as he beat Gunn. Knight had a try-out match over Steve Madison. He's friends with a lot of the guys, and Undertaker in particular, and has been looking at getting back in for some time. It's probably just a question whether Undertaker will call in a marker for him. Winky Wright, who just beat Shane Mosely in a big boxing match, was at the show... In Louisville, once again it was Guerrero over Show with the same finish as in Tampa, as well as Cena over Dupree. Basically same stuff with Undertaker squashing Booker T quickly. Spike Dudley worked on the heel side in a trios opener with Bubba & D-Von vs. London & Kidman & Jordan. They also did the OVW match, which was taped for the TV this coming weekend. Jeter & O'Haire beat Impact & Dinsmore (obviously not doing his gimmick). They did a post-match angle where they injured O'Haire's ribs from Impact giving him a spinebuster. O'Haire was scheduled to return home for a while so this was to explain it in the OVW storyline.


Spoiler for 8/30/04:
Even with the core business hitting recent record lows in July, due to the popularity of DVDs, an added PPV show, and strong international business, World Wrestling Entertainment as a business posted a $7,646,000 profit on total revenue of $81,551,000 in the first quarter of fiscal 2004-05 (May through July).

The numbers were well ahead of the same period last year, which was $74,675,000 in revenue and $2,585,000 in profits. It should be noted that of that profit for the quarter, approximately $4.2 million will be paid out in upcoming weeks in stockholders dividends, totally $2,862,820 to Vince McMahon in particular. As noted many times, due to cost-cutting and increases in non-core business, they are very profitable, but the major revenue sources all dropped significantly over the past three months, as has overall popularity.

At the 8/23 company quarterly conference call, Linda McMahon talked more about non-core business, in particular rolling out of the 24/7 and taking advantage of the tape library, as well as merchandise. She noted that the company had signed a five-year extension of its current contact with B Sky B in the United Kingdom. She pushed the upcoming DVD releases for Eddie Guerrero (the UPN TV special from a few months back, which was excellent, along with a collection of his matches from AAA, ECW, WCW, WWE, and even an AWA match teaming with his brothers Chavo & Mondo from very early in his career) and the Rise and Fall of ECW. The latter video has been very controversial, because reports were they were very much encouraging people to bury Paul Heyman (not that some people wouldn't need encouragement to do so), which is their own employee. She pushed the idea of merchandising opportunities for older wrestlers when the new station is rolled out, saying the Jakks Pacific release recently of nostalgic wrestling action figures turned out to be a big hit. She also pushed two movies, which she didn't specify, that would be filmed over the next few months. The total budget for the two movies is $20 million. The first movie, currently in pre-production in Australia, will be the vehicle for John Cena, and will be the shot starting in probably a month or so. The second will either be a vehicle for HHH or Kane. 2001 Century Fox will distribute one and Lions Gate will distribute the other. That will start filming not all that much later. This seems to indicate Cena would end up losing the best-of-five series, since afterwards, he's going to be unavailable for TV and house shows for a month or more.

She also said the 10/19 "Taboo Tuesday" Raw PPV will have fans vote on the web site for matches that they want to see, and it will be promoted heavily the night before on Raw. She talked about expansion of the developmental system, something that has been talked about for a long time. She also noted that even with the ratings being flat, they've been able to increase the ad rates for the fall season, and the company's major sponsors, like Nike, Burger King, and Sony, have signed on for the next year. The big successes out of the ring have been the WrestleMania 20 DVD, which sold 180,000 copies, the Ric Flair DVD, which sold more than 120,000 copies, the Chris Benoit DVD, which has already sold more than 65,000 copies, and the Flair autobiography. She noted the "Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain" video game has sold more than two million copies.

The negative, more than anything else, is North American house show attendance. The company was down to a 3,800 per event average in North America and a $140,600 average gate (this includes the higher gates of the PPV events factored in). This is a drop from a $154,000 average gate in the prior quarter. However, the ten overseas shows for the quarter averaged 9,300 and $670,000, and even with the increase in expense of touring, are far more profitable than domestic shows.

The diva search, pushed three months ago as an idea to drive Raw ratings, was not even brought up.

While the conference usually compares revenues in various categories with the same-period last year, we like to compare to the prior quarter, to see if the current direction is positive or not, as in this business, one year is an eternity. Of course, that is unfair this time out because the WrestleMania and Royal Rumble quarter is always the biggest because of the revenue from those shows. A big part of the increase this quarter over last had to do with WrestleMania, because the video of this year's event was far bigger than the previous year.

In that regard, live event revenue dropped from $22.2 the prior quarter with 87 shows to $17.9 million this quarter with 89 shows (the same quarter last year was $18.1 million on 84 shows). This quarter had the four PPV events, which are bigger live gates, totaling $2 million. Last quarter, had three shows, but with WrestleMania and Royal Rumble, they totaled $3.93 million, so factoring those out and you have house show numbers at of $18.3 million falling to $15.9 million, a significant 13.1% drop, even while running two more shows. In the last quarter, the company averaged a $72 ticket price for overseas events as compared to a $37 average ticket price in North America.

Of course PPV is down from that quarter as well, but that is to be expected. The four shows at this point have Judgment Day at 220,000 buys (0.41), Bad Blood at 264,000 (0.49), Great American Bash at 233,000 (0.43), and Vengeance at 232,000 (0.43).

Television ad revenues showed a significant drop from $13.6 million to $10.6 million. Television rights fees also dropped form $20.9 million to $19.8 million, so total TV revenue was down 11.9% from the prior quarter. The average Raw rating dropped from 3.9 to 3.7. The average Smackdown rating dropped from 3.3 to 3.1.

Home video revenue dropped from $11.1 million to $5.7 million, but the prior quarter had most of the sales of the Monday Night War and WrestleMania videos, as well as the later sales of the Flair video sales. The $5.7 million, with the major titles being later sales of WrestleMania and the Benoit video, was an 128% increase over the $2.5 million from the same quarter last year, but all video business is way up due to increases in DVD sales.

Licensing revenues dropped from $3.7 million last quarter to $3.3 million this quarter.

The company currently has $343,061,000 in assets and $68,123,000 in liabilities for about $275 million in cash on hand. That is up from $265.6 million three months ago.
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The executive officers of the company, besides Vince McMahon (Chairman of the Board) and Linda McMahon (Chief Executive Officer), are Phil Livingston (Chief Financial Officer), Ed Cohen (Executive Vice President Booking & Live Events), Kevin Dunn (Executive Vice President TV production), Donna Goldsmith (Senior Vice President, Consumer Products), Ed Kaufman (Executive Vice President General Counsel), Shane McMahon (Executive Vice President Global Media), Jim Ross (Executive Vice President Business Strategies), James Rothschild (Senior Vice President North American sales), Kurt Schneider (Executive Vice President Marketing), and Frank Serpe (Senior Vice President Finance). As noted last week Vince earned $1,085,000 in straight salary and another $1,085,000 in bonus. He also earned $882,279 in other annual compensation, mostly from his $850,000 downside guarantee in his talent contract. His total income of $3,052,279 was up from $1,940,500 last year and $1,929,965 in 2002. That doesn't include his family's $11,451,279 that they are on target to earn in dividends this coming year (he did not earn that much last year; I believe last year's total would have been $8.5 million). Linda McMahon earned $750,000 in salary, another $750,000 in bonuses and $29,933 in talent fees. That $1,529,933 is up from $755,500 last year and $763,350 the year before. Kevin Dunn earned $517,692 in salary and another $300,000 in bonuses, plus with stock options and other compensation, his total earnings for the year were $1,286,337, up from $543,417 last year. Phil Livingston earned $385,000 in straight salary and $260,000 in bonuses. His total income was $740,503. James Rothschild earned $365,500 in salary and $675,866 in bonuses this past year. All totaled, he earned $1,379,181, up from $781,100 last year. Vince's $1,085,000 per year contract expires on October 14, 2006. Linda's $750,000 per year contract expires on October 14, 2003, but there is an option through 2005. Vince's $850,000 wrestler contract also expires in late 2006. Both get bonuses amounting to their annual salary based on performance goals, which a certain profit level (that they topped last year). For next year, they get the bonuses if EBITDA tops $69 million for the year. Have I noted of late that the entire budget for the developmental system has remained at $500,000?

Raw in the U.K. is moving from Friday night at 10pm to Thursday night at 9pm starting on 9/2. This new time slot puts it head-to-head with the FWA show on The Wrestling Channel. There will also be a repeat on Friday night at midnight. They had three different ads, one with Edge, Chris Benoit, and Randy Orton each, telling viewers about the change. Raw has been on Friday nights in the U.K. for nearly nine years. It actually started in the U.K. in September 1995, at 5pm on Thursday. In November 1995, it was moved to Friday at 5pm. In August 1996, due to some viewer complaints about the product, mainly about the Goldust character's actions, it was moved to 10pm. Wrestling has been a Friday night tradition on Sky since 1989, which was the inception of the channel. It was first WWF Superstars of Wrestling, then WWF Mania, before Raw.

For the New York Times bestseller list for 8/29, Ric Flair's book is expected to be either No. 17 or No. 18, so its time at the top is over. This past week, it was No. 10 on the Canadian Globe & Mail list.

The first Randy Orton vs. HHH match won't be at WrestleMania 21, but instead takes place in two weeks, on the 9/12 Unforgiven main event in Portland.

The Rock's appearance on Raw was known in advance. Why the company never promotes Rock's appearances is just mind-boggling. It is said about half the crowd knew Rock was appearing because a lot of people saw him arrive at the building, and the word got around the building fast.

Steve Austin was in Anaheim, since he lives in Los Angles now, for the Raw show and met with Vince McMahon. Nobody in the audience knew it, but he must have gotten a kick out of all the "What" chants in a show that had far too much boring talk. Sean Waltman also met with Vince at the show.

Some notes on Amy Weber. She's from Lake Weir, FL, originally, near Ocala. She was voted one of the 100 sexiest women alive by the readers of Maxim magazine, where she's done a lot of bikini modeling and some covers. She was a star in track and cross country in high school, as well as on the debate team. She's done 19 feature films. She said the reason she entered was because a friend of hers brought up WWE was offering $250,000 in a Diva Search and was she interested. Her friend then told her she was so above doing something like that. She said it got her mad, so she entered. That story does sound like a Zach Gowen story, doesn't it? She's done a lot of TV, most notably on the Howard Stern show, "Son of the Beach." She's also working on two books and wants to cut an R&B album. Weber has said she's not opposed to training to become a wrestler, but would rather have a role like Stacy Keibler. The winner of the Diva Search is bound to WWE for a one-year contract. Supposedly, after what happened on Monday, Carmella DeCesare threatened to kick her ass backstage. Also, according to Weber, their team did one rehearsal of Diva Dodge Ball before the thing aired. She claimed they worked the existing women, pretending to be klutzes so they could surprise them in tapings. Actually, Michelle, who got dumped the next day, was a total ringer. Real name Michelle McCool Alexander, the tall blond girl from Palatka, FL was a former county athlete of the year in volleyball. She was the only contestant of the ten who was not a professional model, as she's a 24-year-old local school teacher. Her biggest thrill was meeting Ric Flair, as she was a fan as a kid. She also put over Trish Stratus, Nidia, Chris Jericho, and Rhyno as being very nice to her. She was also told that even though she was dumped, she "might" be called back.

The scheduled 8/23 Smackdown brand house show in Richmond, CA was canceled due to low ticket sales.

Brock Lesnar got hazed on 8/18, at the final day of the Vikings camp in Mankato, MN. After the last practice, when everyone leaves the field, nobody left. Lesnar figured out in a hurry that he was not the predator, but the prey, and took off as fast as he could, and apparently it was really fast. He was still run down by running back Larry Ned. The rest of the team held him down, while Kelly Campbell was doing pro wrestling moves on him. He had his ankles taped together and was doused with water. That's actually a good sign, because it means the team considers him a real player as opposed to a publicity stunt. The Vikings are already merchandising a Lesnar #69 jersey.

It's true: Edge, Eddie Guerrero, and Undertaker were unhappy with the crowd reactions to them in Toronto. You could see it in Undertaker's face. Edge had called friends after the show and was really hurt he was booed by Toronto fans. An interesting irony in Undertaker vs. JBL in Toronto and Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg in MSG: in both cases, they were pretty much the same thing. Well, a little different, as in MSG, the chants started immediately and the people didn't give them a chance. In Toronto, it took a few minutes before they turned on the match. In Boston, with the HHH vs. Scott Steiner match, the crowd turned on the match in the first minute when they puked at Steiner's offense. In Toronto and MSG, I got a lot of response from people who thought the crowd was disrespectful. I thought they were in MSG because they turned on them before they started. In Boston, almost nobody said the crowd was disrespectful. Internally, I never heard anyone say the MSG crowd was disrespectful, because a lot of the people were mad at Goldberg and Lesnar and thought they deserved it. Internally, a lot of people were mad at the Toronto crowd, since Undertaker and JBL are office favorites. When Goldberg and Lesnar were mad about the crowd reactions, they were crybabies. When Undertaker was mad, it was the crowd's fault. In MSG, Shane McMahon, an Executive Vice President, was chanting "You Sold Out" from his ringside seat. In Toronto, I wonder what Shane McMahon's reaction was when the crowd regurgitated on his Smackdown brand champion?

Some more on JBL in Germany from someone at the show: there is no question what he did was against German law and there were many people offended at the show. But outside the people in the arena, nobody in Germany cared. The incident wasn't covered in any major media in the country. JBL's claim that the media in Germany backed him is incorrect, nor would it be correct to say the media opposed him. It was a non-story by the major media. The only thing he can point to is an article in a small right-wing activist newspaper which mentioned his case, never defended what he did, but did question whether the law should still be on the books.

The 8/12 episode of Smackdown was the third most-watched English language show among U.S. Hispanic viewers, getting a 5.9 Hispanic rating, more than double the national average on the lowest rated non-Holiday Smackdown in history. It trailed the opening ceremonies (7.5) and 8/15 prime time airing of the Olympics (7.5 and 7.2), but it beat out the 8/14 Olympics on NBC, which did a 5.1. Currently, 9.8% of the U.S. homes fall under the category of Hispanic homes. Another way of looking at it is this: Smackdown among homes where English is the primary language did a 2.26 rating that night.

Nunzio was off this weekend as well because his wife gave birth last week.

Another reason suggested for the booing of Edge in Toronto was this. The day before SummerSlam, the wrestlers were at Ontario Place in Toronto and Edge was supposed to be at a press conference. Fans were led to believe he had no-showed, plus there was an autograph session he showed up 30 minutes late for with a lot of people in line waiting. On the other hand, Chris Jericho did a concert that same night in the same place and went out of his way to entertain the crowd.

Kurt Angle is being told, besides to take fewer bumps, to use the Angle slam and ankle lock less frequently during matches. There is a feeling he is using those moves too often at house shows when they aren't the finish. Again, having not seen the finished product and the preceding product, I don't know, but when changes are made for "safe" moves like the ankle lock that are used less that make a match less exciting (being that Angle isn't going to win at house shows anyway), I think you fall into the category of overanalyzing matches that are getting over to begin with.

Both Heidenreich and Rene Dupree had problems at weekend house shows. Heidenreich was frustrated with a match with Scotty 2 Hotty in Bakersfield (imagine if he'd been working with Bob Holly as was at one point scheduled for the weekend). He was mad about Scotty missing a spot during his comeback, but Heidenreich took the bump anyway and it looked like hell. Heidenreich got back up, and was hit with a dropkick, took a second bump, and got up fuming, not so much at Scotty but just that the spot was blown. He went crazy in the ring at first. Paul Heyman and ref Jimmy Korderas tried to calm him down, but he was screaming in front of people. Heyman pulled him backstage and again went to clam him down, but even after Heyman talked with him, he started tearing up backstage and punching himself in the head. Bubba Ray Dudley then went to him to calm him down, but he didn't listen, and started banging his head into lockers and ran screaming out the door into the parking lot, where he did calm down. He did come back, and talked with Heyman and Arn Anderson and he was okay by that point.

There was heat on Rene Dupree for stinking up a match with Charlie Haas with too much stalling and comedy, and he did call the match. He was mad at being fined recently, plus, you don't have to be a genius to see his star falling fast, for reasons nobody really could answer. There was a spot Dupree was told not to do (I believe it was his French dance, which is his trademark spot, but they feel people now cheer when he does it so he shouldn't be doing it). Anyway, he did it anyway on a recent house show, and ended up being fined. When Vince McMahon asked at a meeting if Dupree had an attitude, and if you understand the way people react from a proclamation from God in that company, people are looking for examples to prove Vince was right.

John Laurinatis is starting to get the heat that Jim Ross used to get that is natural for his position. He told everyone that, no exceptions, there is a $250 fine for being late and even more for dress code violations. You are supposed to wear nice slacks, nice shirt at all times while traveling, and believe me, there is a lot of heat on that one since many see this, and I can see the point of view, that they feel management is not addressing the real problems that has gotten the lack of popularity where it is, while they are worrying about unimportant things like what wrestlers are wearing on airplanes in the summer. It's the mentality from the past that if people see you dressed like a bum, they won't pay to see you.

Mick Foley was on Air America Radio's morning show on 8/23 promoting the "Smackdown Your Vote" drive. He said The Rock was a Democrat with some conservative values, and he said he was as well. He made fun of George W. Bush. When the hosts brought up that the drive was supposed to have been non-partisan in 2000, but on the last night, Jerry Lawler went off big-time on Al Gore (there are people significantly high in the Democratic Party who felt that could have swayed the election, although with race that close, everything on both sides could have swayed it). Foley thought Lawler was really going off on Joe Lieberman because Lieberman was aligned at the time with the PTC, which was trying to get Smackdown taken off the air. Foley said Lieberman was guilty of not checking out people he was associated with like L. Brent Bozell, whom Foley called a pioneer of smear tactics. He said he was voting for John Kerry, and that other wrestlers have gone on record promoting Bush (Flair and JBL have, very strongly and publicly). Foley said he thinks George Bush was watching wrestling in 1998 and copied a lot from watching Austin, saying that's when his swagger came around. He also said wrestling was guilty of using xenophobia to sell tickets and he said he's been guilty in the past of using homophobia to get crowds to turn on certain wrestlers, and gave an example involving Kurt Angle. Foley claimed Billy & Chuck were positive gay role models (I'd argue that, because they were heels who turned babyface by saying they weren't gay). He said his next book, "Tales from Wrescal Lane," about WWE characters as children growing up living in the same block (a children's book that comes out in October, which will probably coincide with his return to television) will go to an education center in the Philippines. He concluded with this line: "I have a conversation in my mind, where a father is putting his son to bed, and we have 40 million people living below the poverty line, 30 million other people that low-wage labor is failing them, and his kid being put to bed says, 'Daddy, I'm hungry.' And there's no excuse for going to bed hungry in the land of plenty. And the father says,' Hey, that may be. But at least those two gay people you'll never meet in a city you'll never be in can't get married.' It just seems like our priorities are out of order."

D-Von Dudley worked all weekend, but he's having problems with high blood pressure.

Kendall Cross, who was a gold medalist on the 1996 U.S. Olympic wrestling team with Kurt Angle, was asked about Angle and amateur wrestling. Cross is the current Executive Director of the Dave Schultz Wrestling Foundation, which raises money for amateur wrestlers to train. He said, "Angle was one of us, and I think he still is. He contributes to the Schultz Foundation and was one of Dave's training partners. I can get him on the phone and pick up where we left off." As noted many times, there are still people in amateur wrestling, although the number is smaller than it was four years ago, who are still mad that Angle took the career path he did.

Despite what is said publicly, it appears a significant percentage (I was told vast majority) of the Smackdown roster is dumfounded by the JBL push. There is a lot of feeling it's undeserved, and for whatever reason, Bruce Prichard gets the heat for it, even though it's obviously Vince McMahon's final call.

Rey Mysterio, Mark Jindrak, and Johnny Stamboli were all fined for arriving late in Bakersfield. They were traveling together after spending the afternoon at Mysterio's home in Chula Vista, which is a good four hours away.

"Walking Tall" opened at No. 2 last week in Australia with $1,356,443 in Australian money. It was considered a disappointment considering the amount of publicity the film has gotten, including The Rock coming to Australia to promote the movie.

The Hurricane was back training in the gym this week, but his nose hasn't recovered from last week's surgery enough to return to the ring.

Matt Cappotelli, Johnny Jeter, and Mark Magnus from OVW are booked on Raw brand house shows starting in a few weeks. The card given to the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, ME for 10/1 listed Jeter vs. Christian (who is ready to come back and I guess they just haven't had the time to bring him back with all the time that the main acts and diva search takes up), Cappotelli vs. Tyson Tomko, and Magnus vs. The Hurricane. Magnus is interesting, because he hasn't even been on OVW in months. The idea was for Magnus & Jimmy Snuka, Jr. to debut with a big push as an Iraqi heel tag team, and given this, that may have been dropped. Jeter is very Ricky Morton-esque as a worker, in that he has a charisma that can get over, but only if he's pushed big from the start. The negative on him is he can't talk, and it is negative enough he needs someone to talk for him, as an act like that needs microphone time. Cappotelli has a great look. I don't see him tearing the house down with Tomko, and he's also not read on the microphone. Magnus is more than ready on the microphone, but not in the ring.

They also look to be doing Randy Orton, Eugene, & Chris Benoit vs. Evolution main events at house shows.

8/9 Raw tapings in Cleveland drew 6,000. 8/10 Smackdown tapings in Detroit drew 6,600.

8/20 Raw house show in Bismark drew 1,900 and $65,000. 8/21 Raw in Fargo drew 1,500 and $53,000, and that was in the huge Fargo Dome, which holds like 30,000. 8/21 Smackdown in San Diego was the big success of the week (Smackdown in a Hispanic market), with 5,900 paying $195,000. It was said to have been the best walk-up crowd for any event in months, which again translates into the traditionally late-buying Hispanic audience, plus an incredible amount of last week promotion in the Latino community with Rey Mysterio. 8/22 Raw in Palm Springs drew 1,900 and $77,000. 8/22 Smackdown in Bakersfield drew 3,100 and $100,000, which was once again a big Hispanic walk-up and the second straight good Smackdown showing.

In Bismark, they tried an experiment on the show as Dean Malenko ordered in the first half of the show he wanted no punches thrown and nobody leaving the ring.


Spoiler for 3/15/04:
To many, the biggest match at this year's Wrestlemania is Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg with Steve Austin as ref. It's been largely expected for months that it will be Goldberg's last match. What wasn't expected is that Lesnar's future looks to be tenuous as well.

Goldberg has committed to doing the judging at the upcoming Hockey Gladiators PPV, something he couldn't do while under WWE contract, which means there is no work as far as the idea he's got as of press time that he's done. He's been telling friends that for months, and WWE has been under that assumption as well. Over the past week, Lesnar and Vince McMahon have had issues, and all post-Mania plans for Lesnar are off the boards. Exactly how the Lesnar issues with the company will play out are uncertain at this point. There were unconfirmed reports at press time that Lesnar had quit the company at the 3/9 tapings in Atlantic City and that Wrestlemania would be his final match. There were also reports he was interested in trying out for an NFL team for this coming season. Lesnar has said many times that if he hadn't signed to be a pro wrestler, he would be playing in the NFL. He has the size, power, and athletic ability to play in the NFL, but never even played college football, so without the technique, would be a long shot. Still, Stephen Neal, who beat Lesnar for the NCAA title in 1999, also never played college football and is now with the New England Patriots.

Goldberg has also talked for years about doing a PPV match, promoted on his own, against Austin. He and Austin are friends and the idea of Austin getting major points in the show would be a probable. But it doesn't seem viable for Austin to leave what at this point looks to be a long term job with WWE if he wants it, for a theoretical quick score that would be high risk in the current environment. Nobody knows for sure in life, but unless Austin leaves on his own or has a blow-out with McMahon, I can't see him being dropped at any point in the next wrestling lifetime since McMahon himself recognizes Austin was the most important component in the rebuilding of the current brand. The value of that match is probably five plus years past its peak. Even though there is strong marquee value in that match if handled correctly by WWE at the right time, it is questionable what kind of business it could do without WWE promoting it and without weekly television building it up.

There are a lot of issues that involve Lesnar, some having to do with his personal life and others having to do with being tired of the grueling schedule. Unlike Kurt Angle, who mentally did not have the athlete's mentality when it comes to winning and losing as a wrestler, and just believes in doing anything to entertain people (which has often worked against him becoming a top draw), Lesnar has been protected from the start. In four years of college, he was a wrestling stud, both in JC and at the University of Minnesota. He got a big contract to start wrestling, and the minute he was brought to the main roster, it was with the idea of being groomed to be world champion. So from the spring of 2002 until winning the title at SummerSlam, it was all upwards. Even when he lost the title on several occasions, the losses were always temporary since the idea was he would get the title back shortly. The loss to Guerrero was different, because there was no long-term plan for him to get it back, as there are no plans on the book for Guerrero to be taken out of his current position on top. Lesnar's post Wrestlemania program was scheduled to be with Undertaker, starting on the post-Mania European tour. It's been said for months that Undertaker, in his old gimmick where he's not selling much and is largely going over strong on everyone, was something Lesnar didn't want to be feeding. Ultimately, with the possible exception of OVW, he's had largely the preferential treatment that comes from being a college sports superstar, and a wrestler on the rise. That treatment is now going to Guerrero. He hasn't been given long-term programs because so much of the booking for months has been geared toward Mania, and there is very little decided for just about anyone for post-Mania. There are those who think this is what happens nine times out often when someone is given the monster push in wrestling without a lot of time in the business. He felt when going to South Africa and mainly wrestling Bob Holly two weeks ago that it was a long trip and it showed they had no ideas for fresh programs for him. Others think his complaint that he's working a full-time schedule while wanting time off, while others on top are working less dates, is a reasonable issue. The feeling is that a few years ago it wouldn't have been, but when the rules were changed for Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Undertaker, HHH, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, Ric Flair, and would be no doubt changed if requested for Kurt Angle, that Lesnar has a valid point. Of course the others are all a lot older, and more physically banged up, but Lesnar's style at his size also leads to plenty of injuries.
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Vince McMahon did an interview for the 3/9 Hollywood Reporter’s special section on Wrestlemania. When asked, in hindsight, about the folding of WCW, he said, "Hindsight being 20/20, I don't know that it may have been just a matter of time before we killed each other off. I don't know. Our understanding of the business on a long-range basis really gave us an advantage. We were overmatched in terms of assets, but they were overmatched in terms of work ethic and in terms of understanding how to build a brand. And in the end, our formula worked. Quite frankly, though, I was surprised when (they) threw in the towel. I didn't think that would ever happen." He complained about the World Wildlife Fund, claiming the agreement ten years ago not to use the WWF initials for promoting outside of North America was an agreement they were strong-armed into signing. He claimed they signed because they were threatened with a lawsuit, but signed it under duress (which I guess, in McMahon's world, means that's an excuse for signing an agreement and then ignoring it). He again claimed that 70% of the viewers of Raw and Smackdown were specific to the brand. How come when I go to Raw and Smackdown house shows, I see the exact same 2,500 people? It was noted that the WWE's deal with InDemand is coming up soon. He said he wouldn't settle for any less than the current deal (45% of the total takes). He also said he doesn't believe that pro wrestling is cyclical (which is nice since his wife seemingly does, based on the investors' conferences). He did note that even though they weren't on fire, the company was still profitable, whereas Hollywood studios lose millions in between hits. When asked about usage of the company tape library, he said they could do a digital TV channel, or an analog channel (although he noted that would be expensive). He also talked about video-on-demand. He said he didn't think the company had done a very good job of taking advantage of its international popularity, and its goals were to do more licensing and merchandising overseas. When asked if he was working or shooting when he lost his cool with Bob Costas and Armen Keteyian, he said the TV character is a performance, but when he was on those HBO shows, that was him. He said they were looking for him to be the bad guy, and if they make him out to be one, "sometimes I don't disappoint them." Upcoming movie projects from the company, besides "Jornada del Muerte," the HHH vehicle, will be two movies starring Glen Jacobs (Kane), a horror movie, as yet unnamed in a Freddy Kruger mode, and an action movie called "The Anvil." They also have another film, called "The Marine," similar to the movie "First Blood," as a vehicle for Austin. McMahon also claimed once again that Mr. McMahon's days as a TV character are numbered, citing his age as the reason.

The plan for the Benoit vs. Michaels vs. HHH Mania match to be a ladder match was changed. At this point, the plan is for HHH vs. Benoit on 4/18 in Edmonton at the Backlash PPV to be a ladder match. I'm guessing the feeling was it would be stronger for the world title match at Mania to end with a 1-2-3. Based on the interview on Raw calling the match the main event, the presumption is it will go on last and will go 30-35 minutes. They did try out matches as Michaels was sent to the house shows in Syracuse, Elmira, and Baltimore this weekend to work it out. The basics of the match look to be that there will be one guy injured and the other two will work spots with each other until someone (most likely HHH as the heel) is just about done, and the other face will stagger and recover just in time to make the save and keep the match going. Pat Patterson and Michael Hayes came to the Baltimore show to give input to all three for how to help the Mania match.

Besides the Hall of Fame inductees, there will be other 80s/90s WWF names that will be at Wrestlemania and the Hall of Fame banquet who were asked to be there to present the awards. Harley Race asked Ric Flair to present his award and I believe Jim Ross will be presenting Bobby Heenan with his.

When The Rock was on the "Richard & Judy" prime time talk show in the U.K. plugging "Welcome to the Jungle," (as "The Rundown" is being called internationally), he noted that his WWE contract expires next year.

Bob Backlund turned down the WWE Hall of Fame induction after at first agreeing. He said he didn't think the time was right when he declined. No word on whether the Pete Rose thing had anything to do with it but there were people who were really into the honor and now feel a little different about it.

The 10 people in the cruiserweight match at Mania are Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Jamie Noble, Nunzio, Funaki, Tajiri, Akio, Billy Kidman, Shannon Moore, and Ultimo Dragon. Well, Dragon did get to achieve his career long goal of wrestling at Wrestlemania. Also added to the show is Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty defending the Smackdown tag titles in a four-way against APA, Bashams and Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas.

With Edge and Benoit moving from Smackdown to Raw, there is a good chance, although it's not finalized, that Rob Van Dam would be moving in the other direction. At this point there are no plans for either Undertaker or Kane to switch sides, and the program at last word was scheduled to end at Mania.

A correction from last week's story on Wrestlemania regarding the Michaels rundown: Michaels' first Wrestlemania match was in 1989 at Trump Plaza, with the Rockers vs. The Twin Towers (Akeem & Big Bossman). So he's done ten matches, not nine going into this weekend. As I recall, that match was pretty good for a match with the sound off when you consider One Man Gang was involved, but with the sound on, it was the same match. Also, in the Monday Night War piece, the Mick Foley first WWF title win over Rock was in Worcester, not Providence.

Randy Orton suffered yet another concussion last weekend. He was throwing up and everything but still worked the Raw in Atlanta because it was the advertised main event with Michaels & Benoit and it was important for their Mania angle, as well as he had to be there for the big Mania angle. It was announced publicly that he had suffered a virus. He was pulled from his OVW main event mid-week as well as the weekend house shows.

Edge's injury wasn't as bad as first feared. He was running the ropes in OVW trying to get his cardio back when he messed up his foot. At first they feared it was torn tendons, but that wasn't the case. He's still wearing a protective boot at this point.

Molly Holly has a neck injury, but worked all weekend on it. She's been in Louisville training and watching 80s and Japanese videotapes for ideas for her Mania match. The injury’s why she did only a 2:00 match with Victoria in Baltimore.

WWE Originals sold 10,044 copies last week to fall to No. 143 on the Billboard charts.

Howard Stem on 3/9 was asked about doing Wrestlemania. He said he was asked by Vince again this year (he's been asked many times by Vince to do big shows) but that the WWE writers couldn't come up with anything entertaining for him to do. He said he asked Vince what he wanted for him to do and Vince said, "Well, what do you want to do?" He said he doesn't exactly spend his days thinking about ideas he can do on a wrestling show. He also said that he was looking for $1 million to do the show and Vince was talking about $5,000 or $10,000, so they were far apart. He said he'd need a lot more than $5,000 to "lower himself to do a wrestling event."

Charlie Haas had his tooth cracked while in South Africa from Bradshaw's clothesline, I think on the 2/26 show in Cape Town. It was apparently painful as hell because the crack went into a nerve.

There was a minor injury when somebody as a rib poured a bucket of water on Richards, and he slipped on the floor, but he worked the show and also worked the next night.

At Raw in Bridgeport, Kenzo Suzuki debuted, beating Nick Dinsmore in a dark match. Suzuki has been in OVW for the past several weeks, but hasn't been used on any of their shows. He looked terrible. What a shock. Tokimitsu Ishizawa (Kendo Ka Shin) was at the show looking for work.

Nicole Fink (Nikita) was cut by WWE developmental more than a week ago. She's remained in OVW working out her notice. This came as a surprise to a lot of people. Nikita had become something of an OVW fixture, as the manager of Doug Basham, and more recently of Mark Magnus. There had been ideas to use her as Torrie Wilson's evil stepsister in the aftermath of the death of Al Wilson angle, as well as in a Smackdown role to feud with Dawn Marie, but they never got off the drawing board. On the decision, and I hate to write this but this is the reality of the business, she had a WWE body but not a WWE face (not that she's unattractive, but Alexis Laree, who is there, is a prettier woman) and that's the only answer I can come up with for what ultimately kept her from being called up. There has been frustration with her injuries that haven't kept her from performing on television as a manager, but have kept her from training in the ring to wrestle. Her bikini contest last year with Jackie Gayda drew the highest quarter hour OVW has ever done (2.8 locally). I can't evaluate her wrestling because they rarely used her in that role on TV. As a manager, she understood how to walk to the ring, position herself, and had the body language of appearing to be someone important, which sounds easier than it is. I saw her & Magnus in OVW as a ready for major league act except that Magnus' work is a long way from ready. WWE developmental is not there to provide OVW with good workers, but to train people for WWE, and I guess the feeling was, after two years in the system (the old Steve Bradley/Flash Flanagan decision making), they weren't going to bring her up. At the same time, with the clueless stripper looking women they've signed of late, and Jillian Hall, who is the company's best prospect as a worker but who doesn't have the WWE body (i.e., hasn't starved down and no implants) not having a contract, it just tells you the reality of women in wrestling.

No definitive word on when Scott Steiner will be back from his groin and hip flexor injuries, but the estimate looks to be in the six week range.

Onyx from NWA Wildside was asked to cut a promo when he did his 3/1 Heat match in Atlanta and 3/2 match in Savannah at the Smackdown tapings. He was told they were going to fly him in for Mania.

There were no Smackdown house shows over the weekend because they were letting people rest until Mania, with the exception of the TV shoot, after the exhausting South Africa trip.

There may be some unhappy wrestlers when the payoffs come in from South Africa. Wrestlers saw four sold out houses with good crowds, but the average price per ticket was way down from most international tours, probably because of the economy in that country. The grosses were a lot better than they would be in the U.S., but only a tiny percentage of the kind of money that was drawn on the Japan tour, even though this tour drew far more fans. It drew, in dollars, less than half of what the gates would have been had they been in places like Europe or Australia, and the wrestlers are paid on the gates. The four dates totaled roughly $1 million at the gate, as compared to more than $3 million for a three-day swing in Japan, which didn't draw crowds as large except in Saitama. In addition, because of the tour, there were no house shows this past weekend. That's usually not an issue because there is so much more money earned on overseas events and the long trips are tiring so people welcome getting the next weekend off. Even with the weekend off, there is probably more that would end up being earned by going to South Africa for four dates than in two weekends domestically.

Bobby Heenan noted on Wrestling Observer Live on 3/8 that on 3/13, he'd be inducted to the Hall of Fame, and on that same date in 2002, he had surgery to remove his lymph nodes due to cancer.

Hulk Hogan did an interview with Bill Apter where he did complain about not being invited to Mania, saying he thought there was something wrong with that. I guess the whole TNA deal was most likely exactly what everyone thought it was—his attempt to get Vince off the dime and Vince didn't swallow the bait like he did with the XWF bluff.

Catching up on last week, the 2/24 Smackdown TV tapings in Kansas City drew 5,200. The 2/27 Raw in Montgomery drew 3,300. 2/28 Raw in Birmingham drew 2,100. 2/29 Raw in Chattanooga drew 2,500.

For the South Africa Smackdown tour, the 2/26 show in Cape Town did a sellout 6,700, 2/27 in Durban did a sellout 8,200, 2/28 in Johannesburg drew a sellout 14,000, and 2/29 in East Rand did a sellout of 5,700. Angle worked as a face in his match with Holly (worked as a heel against Guerrero) because the TV in South Africa isn't caught up and his turn hadn't aired.

3/5 Raw in Syracuse drew 3,900. 3/6 Raw in Elmira drew 3,000. 3/7 Raw in Baltimore drew 5,300. 3/8 Raw TV tapings in Bridgeport drew a sellout of about 7,000, once again because of The Rock.

In Syracuse, they had the Wrestlemania title match try out with HHH, Benoit and Michaels. In this one, HHH pinned Michaels with the pedigree after more than 25:00 of a very good match. Michaels was the most popular when it started, but as it went on, Benoit was the most popular. It was booked that way as Benoit was made to look the strongest. That was because the finish saw Michaels superkick Benoit, but then Michaels turned around into the pedigree. Report we got was that if the Mania match is like this, it should be good. With Orton out, RVD & Booker defended against Jindrak & Cade finishing with the ax kick on Cade. Victoria and Molly Holly also worked a singles match. Benoit did the same crossface spot on Coach. They also did the try-out Jericho vs. Christian match, with Jericho going over with the walls. Match was very fast paced.

Elmira was the same show as Syracuse, again ending with HHH giving Michaels the pedigree to win a three-way which included Benoit.

In Baltimore, both Flair and Foley were at the show. They came out for an angle which started with Stacy Keibler coming out, and they pushed her being from Baltimore. Foley came out after a while. Coach started ripping on him until Foley threatened Coach. Flair came out and said that Foley thinks he's great because he wrestled all over the world and fell on thumb tacks, but that he was the man all over the world. They went back and forth and it was apparently awesome. Flair sucker punched Foley and they worked a short brawl with Flair, broken neck and all, taking all his regular bumps all over the place. Foley finished it with a Mr. Socko on Flair, and then did another one on Coach. To practice for Mania, they did a three-way with Booker & RVD over both Cade & Jindrak and La Resistance. The Dudleys were there but didn't wrestle on the show. D-Von was flagged by the doctors for high blood pressure. I don't know why they just didn't put Bubba & Spike in, since both were at the show and neither worked. It was announced in the building that the Dudleys were wrestling Storm & Venis on Heat (Baltimore was an afternoon show) for the final Mania slot. It was said the live match would be the three teams who are already in Mania. HHH's main event over Benoit and Michaels was said to be ***1/2. Since Hardy worked the weekend with Dinsmore, and nobody knows Dinsmore, Hardy was a big-time babyface at all the shows. They may as well turn him, since after all these years of him being a heel on TV, the people still cheer him anyway.


Spoiler for 9/6/04:
"It's easy to go lowbrow. That's not where we're going with our product in general or this search. We'll be fighting our image for 50 years, because there's 50 years (of tradition) before us, and we understand that." - Kevin Dunn 7/8/04, in what was called, at the time, the most unintentionally hilarious line of the year.

"Whore, you don't have any respect for the WWE. You don't know shit about wrestling. Having a cock in your mouth has nothing to do with wrestling, bitch" - Amy Weber, former bit actress on the aptly named TV show, "Son of the Beach."

"We want someone we can put on a pedestal here, and who can represent the WWE in a classy, I wouldn't say sophisticated, but a classy, nice manner." - Kevin Dunn, 7/8/04, in what will probably win the most unintentionally hilarious line of the year.

"Carmella, you talk a lot of shit but you've got a gap so wide you could drive a truck right through there, baby." - Joy Giovanni, setting a great example for mothers in the U.S., 8/30, in front of a Monday Night Raw crowd at the Cow Palace, which, if it had taken place between 1961 and 1975, would have been among the smallest wrestling crowd in the building over a 15 year period.

"You know there's only two good things that ever came out of England, and Elizabeth Taylor's got both of them" - Ray Stevens, the second biggest draw in the history of wrestling at the Cow Palace, to British native Lord James Blears, prior to a 1972 tag team match against with British native Billy Robinson in Hawaii.

"Carmella, you're a cum-guzzling gutter slut" - Christy Hemme, whose most notable credential is she played in the Lingerie Football League. Fortunately, cum guzzling didn’t make the team.

I'm just waiting for this to get as stupid as the end of the XFL, when they took out TV commercials bragging about how bad their ratings were and making fun of their terrible attempts at angles. That was some of the most creatively stupid commercials ever, as ratings then plummeted to all-time network level lows after that promotion.

The WWE Diva Search, an attempt to build up the Raw ratings through jumping onto the tail end of the reality TV craze, actually got heated up on 8/30 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

Putting the hottest women they could find in bikinis for minutes on end during the wrestling show exploded in the company's face, as the segments were roundly booed by fans that paid good money, presumably to see wrestling. Even worse, to show how much people cared, and how well planned out this was, when it was first announced, the finals were supposed to be on 9/13 in Seattle. As it turned out, they will be on 9/20 in Tucson. The reason? Nobody did the math and realized when you eliminate one woman per week, how many weeks it takes. Worse, it wasn't until this past week when anyone noticed, and with the millions of fans the company has, it is mind-boggling that nobody cared enough. By the third week, a Diva Search segment lost 814,000 viewers, making it the single worst reacted to segment on WWE television all year. While The Rock saved the 8/23 version from being a ratings disaster, he couldn’t save the segment from being among the worst he'd ever participated in.

It was already clear from 8/16 that Carmella DeCesare was the big heel of the group. WWE took advantage of this, knowing the hatred backstage for her, and knowing it would play out on the air by asking the contestants who they would want to eliminate, and all said her. Most had tabbed her as the winner before the contest even started, when she was presented the week before in a manner to where you could tell they considered her the star, since she was this year's Playboy Playmate of the Year. Clearly, the other women must have thought she was performing favors to get her preferential treatment, and worse, when she was clearly made the heel, she still wasn’t voted off.

So it came down to having the women cut promos on each other on live television. The women were told the show was on a seven second delay in case they accidentally said bad words, which was basically telling them it was okay to swear. While many fans watching and many even in the company were unhappy with how low-rent the contest and the company came off, Vince McMahon was said to have loved it. Eric Bischoff would have as well. "Controversy equals Cash" has been disproved so many times in the past five years that it's not even funny, but I'm sure he still believes it. But with no new characters, and few good storylines, the business has to rely on something to get people talking.

Whether the company has managed to manipulate the women into having the most realistic feud since Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were played off of each other in 1996 and 1997, resulting in a legendary feud and few matches, or lucked into it, it's now there. Weber, DeCesare, Hemme, and Giovanni are the final four. People know who they are now. Unfortunately, they have no respect for any of them. They are women with hot bodies, all of whom have shown to be totally devoid of personality. Three of the four have shown little to offer except doing stripper gyrations, and the fourth comes off as being embarrassed to have lowered herself to being there. But to show how bad the written part of the show was, the unscripted part turned into the most heated segment of the show.

For the live crowd, none of the words were bleeped. On television, some of the crassness was censored. At least enough that there was no noticeable heat on WWE the next day. And the irony of this segment coming minutes after showing Linda McMahon and company via satellite at the Republican Convention in Madison Square Garden makes one realize, for the second time, just how fortunate wrestling is that nobody cares about it. Imagine if someone saw reps of a company at the convention, or Republicans at the convention saw this, and stayed tuned, and saw Giovanni grab and squeeze Weber's new breasts, and said, "Hmm, a little too firm for my tastes (and yes, that really happened exactly as described)." Maybe the final will pop a rating, like the finals of “Tough Enough" did every year. Or maybe the final will be like the XFL championship game, an idea that went out with a whimper after its blustery beginnings, and set the wrestling company on a downward spiral it has yet to fully recover from.

In a few weeks, one of these women will be in the company, and likely appearing as a deer in the headlights when asked to do angles, and have to live through ribs from jealous men and women who have spent years trying to learn how to wrestle, and will never make $250,000 per year at this job. Perhaps she'll survive. More likely, she’ll become the answer to the trivia question, like what team won the Big Game at the End (yes, that was really what the XFL called their championship game), or who placed in the World Bodybuilding Federation PPV that nobody bought.

But one thing is for sure. WWE will be fighting its image for the next 50 years. And probably still blame the promoters of the 1970s for it.
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The preliminary indications for SummerSlam on 8/15 are 375,000 buys (0.69 buy rate). The general rule of thumb of late is that the first announced figure usually grows by about 10%, so it'll probably wind up in the 415,000 buy range. The show was headlined by Randy Orton's title win over Chris Benoit and a JBL vs. Undertaker match. Given the current climate, I can't say that's good or bad, because it's exactly where I figured it would be.

For comparison, last year's show did 458,000 buys (0.88 buy rate) headlined by the elimination chamber match with HHH, Bill Goldberg, Orton, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho, as well as a Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar Smackdown title match. The difference in the two buy rates looks to be more the stronger main events on the 2003 version than a sign interest in buying PPVs is down by a substantial degree, although it is down slightly from last year since Mania. It will likely be the third biggest show of the year, as has been the recent tradition, trailing Royal Rumble (570,000 buys) and WrestleMania (885,000).

From a buy rate standpoint, it would be the second lowest SummerSlam in history, beating only the 1996 version, headlined by Shawn Michaels vs. Vader, at 0.58. Depending on late recorded buys, it may also beat out the 1997 version, which was a famous show where Bret Hart beat Undertaker when Shawn Michaels accidentally hit Undertaker in the head with a chair, and the Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart match where Austin got his neck destroyed by the botched tombstone, which did a 0.80. It should be noted that all PPV evens have seen buy rates fall as the number of homes increased, and with the exception of the first year or two, and the post-boom period, total buys of 375,000 for SummerSlam, particularly factoring in $34.95 as the price, would be well ahead of most of the shows.
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After the big success of the tour over the weekend in Australia, there are plans to do both Raw and Smackdown in Australia in April 2005.

With Brock Lesnar having been cut and now no longer expected to make the practice squad, there has been talk of him returning. The big question is probably Lesnar's financial situation. Lesnar made a lot of money in pro wrestling, but also spent a lot. With Rena Mero no longer having a guaranteed income since WWE dropped her, there is some question whether he’ll financially be able to wait for the NFL Europe season to start and try and make the grade there. If Lesnar waits for NFL Europe, which is what his agent was telling people he would do after he was cut, the odds are he would once again attempt to make a team next season, and be a far more experienced player. If not, he would really have no option to make money athletically, other than WWE. It is believed the terms of his release are that he couldn’t sign with another pro wrestling or MMA organization until late March of 2005. Lesnar himself has talked about either going back to WWE, or signing an MMA contract, if football doesn't work out, but he knew going in this wasn’t going to be a few month process, having talked with Steven Neal, and at best it would be two or three years before he could play at NFL level, which is why his age was such a significant factor, as Neal was several years younger when he started down the same path. Lesnar had talked about K-l or Pride, but it's in his best interest not to go in that direction. There have been no talks with Lesnar and UFC, but UFC would be very interested if Lesnar was available next year, unlike with Sean O’Haire, who UFC turned down. Lesnar was thought of as a publicity stunt by the Vikings players when he was signed, but earned everyone's respect with how hard he trained, but he simply couldn’t overcome the learning curve. Lesnar was friends with many of the players beforehand, and didn't come in with a star attitude. In a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article by Mark Craig, it said after learning quickly at first, his progress leveled off, and he'd continue to make mistakes. He needs more training time, but with the season approaching, the team had to concentrate on getting the players who will be on the team this year ready. Lesnar knew several days ahead of time that he would be cut, and it's now considered doubtful he’ll make the practice squad. Vikings coach Mike Tice hasn’t closed the door on it, saying Lesnar has a chance to make the practice squad depending on how injuries play out the next few weeks. "We really like Brock Lesnar," he said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's a great young man. Nobody on our staff thought he would come this far so quickly. It would be great to work with a young man like that for a year, and possibly send him to NFL Europe to see if he can play at this level with any consistency." Lesnar's agent, Ed Hitchcock, said Lesnar would continue to pursue football until all his opportunities were exhausted. That would probably mean an attempt to play NFL Europe. The wear and tear on his body from pro wrestling, as well as him never fully recovering from his April motorcycle accident worked against him. "My body's not real good right now," Lesnar said in the Star-Tribune. "But what the heck? For now, I'm living the NFL experience. Who else like me did what I did this summer?" Lesnar got in for one play, the final play of the game, in the 8/27 Vikings win over the San Francisco 49ers at the Metrodome, before 63,960 fans, and made the tackle on running back Jason Wright, which got a big reaction from the crowd. On the TV broadcast of the game, they talked about Lesnar and even aired clips of him wrestling from Smackdown.

Edge suffered a legit ruptured groin on the 8/28 show in Salt Lake City. He was wrestling Chris Jericho, and two minutes into the match, took a bump out of the ring, and he knew he had screwed up, but thought it was his hip. They gave the "X" sign (which 80% of the time is a work nowadays) and the refs and trainer came out. After several minutes, they ruled the match a count out win for Jericho. They called for a stretcher, but he refused it and limped out with help to the back. He was in tremendous pain that night. He did appear on television, on crutches, doing an angle that largely changed Jericho's program from him to Christian, and kind of explaining his absence. He's expected out four to six weeks. He'd had one hell of a lot of bad luck, as after missing more than a year with a broken neck, right after he'd had the best matches of his career (he himself would admit the two were related and has talked publicly about how the style needs to be toned town), he came back and suffered both a foot injury and a broken hand, before coming back, having great matches with Randy Orton and Jericho, and this injury popped up.

Unforgiven on 9/12 in Portland has announced Randy Orton vs. HHH for the world title, Kane vs. Shawn Michaels, and William Regal & Chris Benoit vs. Ric Flair & Batista as the top matches. Almost surely Jericho vs. Christian will be added. La Resistance vs. Rhyno & Tajiri was announced last week, but not this week. The last word I got is that even though Tajiri suffered a knee injury and wasn’t able to work all weekend (he was at all the shows, including TV, but they did a deal where he was jumped before the match so he didn't have to work), they were still going to do that match, but it could change.

The Undertaker was limping badly by the end of the Australian tour, and appeared he had a bad left ankle. Eddie Guerrero was also noticeably banged up, although really both have been working for a while with lots of nagging injuries.

Some updated notes on The Rock: He's leaving for Prague in about a month for filming of his next movie, "Doom," which is in pre-production. "Spy Hunter" is scheduled for March filming, which may provide a conflict with Mania. His recent trip to Samoa, which had been a dream of his mother's for him to return to the birthplace of his grandparents, saw him and his mother (Ata Johnson, the daughter of Peter Maivia) cry every day (with joy) they were there because of how he was treated. He was made an official High Chief by Samoa's Head of State, Malietoa Tanumaflli II. His Chief title is Seiuli, which means "Son of Malietoa," and his Samoan name is Seiuli Kuegi. It was a huge ceremony with everyone really emotional. It had been talked about for several years of making him a chief, both because of the bloodlines on his grandmother’s side and because of his grandfather. On his grandmother's side, Rock is a descendent of The Malietoa, an ancient King of Samoa. His grandfather's Chief title was given to him by other family chiefs, because of his wrestling stardom, as in the early 70s, when Roy Shire's Big-Time Wrestling aired on television in Samoa, where Peter Maivia was one of the biggest stars. This was at a time when there were no major Samoan celebrities outside the island, and before so many Samoan athletes came to the U.S. and excelled in football, as everyone in those days watched wrestling. Dwayne, on the other hand, has the lineage from his grandmother's side of the family. It was said that on his last full day in Samoa, Johnson's public appearance in front of he government building in Apia was the largest crowd ever to be assembled in Apia (estimated at 50,000 people) chanting his name as he attempted to do his wrestling catch phrases in Samoan. The newspaper in Apia called him "the most popular person ever to set foot in Samoa" and "undoubtedly the most famous Samoan of all-time."

The Ric Flair book will be No. 18 on the New York Times bestseller list for 9/5.

WEEI Sports Radio in Boston reported that Steven Neal, the 1999 NCAA heavyweight champion, was considering WWE. Neal, who beat Brock Lesnar in the finals that year, and was Lesnar's role model and friend, since he also didn't play college football, but after working for several years, ended up as a starter (for only a few games) with the Patriots before a shoulder injury kept him out of action last season. The major difference is Neal, 28, was a few years younger than Lesnar when he went out for the NFL. WWE has had no talks with Neal, at least of when the story broke, but would be interested in him if he showed interest.

Matt Hardy's knee surgery on 8/26 was said to have gone great, and he was out of the hospital the next day. They had to repair both his ACL and MCL. He started physical therapy in Pinehurst, NC, on 8/30. Preliminary guesses are about four to six months out of action.

The Kane horror movie they are producing is currently titled, "Eye Scream Man."

The dress code fine system, which is a big item among a lot of wrestlers, is a $500 fine for the first offense, a $1,000 fine for a second offense and a suspension for a third offense. There have been several first-timers already, including some top stars.

The reason the Mid-South Wrestling collection hasn’t been purchased by WWE is because Ene Watts asked $1 million, and WWE wasn't going to go anywhere close to that league for the rights. I think the feeling now is with the AWA, SMW, WCW, and ECW libraries, plus a relationship to get New Japan footage if needed, they have more footage than they'll ever need and aren't going to spend a ton for anything else.

In the U.K. on 10/19 they are going to air a special Sky Sports 1 Raw special on Tuesday that week instead of the usual Thursday, and then air the PPV live, immediately following Raw, so everything is in storyline order.

This week's Carmella DeCesare story is she got into an altercation on 8/20 at Tramp's Night Club in Cleveland. According to a police report filed by 32-year-old Christin Hine, late that night, the two started arguing about Jeff Garcia (the Cleveland Brown's QB that DeCesare is dating). Hine told police DeCesare slapped her, verbally abused her, screamed, "I'm going to kill you," and kicked her in the head, before bouncers and others pulled them apart. Hine wasn’t injured and no charges were filed. However, this made news because Jennifer Dobson, a local TV news producer, was in the club when this went on. She said DeCesare was the aggressor, started running up to Hine and shoved her, before they were pulled apart. The police report said DeCesare had found out about the woman, allegedly started calling her and leaving threatening messages on her answering machine. DeCesare's attorney told the local Ch. 19 that the story was a non-event, totally bogus, and denied the threats. Hine had not pressed charges.

The 320-page book "Adam Copeland on Edge" is scheduled for an 11/2 release. Edge, like Mick Foley, wrote the book completely by himself without a ghostwriter.

Some notes regarding the 1/9 Raw PPV show at the new 18,500-seat stadium in San Juan: It would be the first WWE show in Puerto Rico in about 20 years. WWE big talent has worked IWA shows and helped draw some big houses in the past when The Rock and Undertaker came, but WWE hasn’t sent talent to Puerto Rico ever since Tiger Ali Singh filed a lawsuit. They are going with tickets ranging from $200 down to $40 in a market where usual prices are $6 and $12 and big show prices are $15 ringside. However, as we've seen from the show in Monterrey, Mexico, WWE can charge high ticket prices and still draw in markets where the traditional wrestling price is low. It's a Raw show, so Carly Colon won't be on it, not that he'd really make any difference. Only about 20% of the island gets cable and Raw, since WWE has no broadcast TV. A far smaller percentage (only people with satellite dishes) gets Smackdown. IWA will be running a big show three days earlier in San Juan at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Puerto Rico is also similar to Mexico because it's all traditionally walk-up business, although a first-ever WWE PPV show may change that. If it doesn’t, they could be nervous going in with not so many tickets sold the day before, but still come out okay in the end.

The plan from a few months ago of Mark Magnus & Jimmy Snuka Jr. as a heel Arab tag team is out the window. The debut was delayed because Snuka had a bad knee. Then, when Vince McMahon came to Louisville a few weeks ago, he decided he wanted Snuka as a single, so the idea looks to be Magnum & Shawn Daivari (which explains Daivari's signing and he's already in OVW) in the spot.

Big Show appears on the fourth episode of the season on UPN's "Star Trek: Enterprise." I’ll bet he plays the role of a really huge dude that intimidates people before getting beaten up at the end.

"Walking Tall" fell to No. 6 in Australia over the weekend with a total gross of $2,020,806.

Raw TV tapings on 8/16 in London, ONT drew 6,800 and Smackdown tapings on 8/17 in Hamilton, ONT drew 3,500.

We didn’t get business notes on the Smackdown Australia tour, other than all three shows were sold out at huge ticket prices and merchandise business was tremendous. The crowds were about 10,500 on 8/27 in Sydney, 7,000 on 8/28 in Brisbane and 6,500 on 8/29 in Melbourne. The tour was called "Return of the Deadman," but nobody seems to remember Undertaker ever working in Australia previously. We didn’t get numbers for the weekend on the domestic Raw shows but estimates we got were 3,500 on 8/27 in Colorado Springs, 2,500 on 8/28 in Salt Lake City, and 2,500 for 8/29 in Stockton.

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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Spoiler for Unforgiven 2004 review:
WWE UNFORGIVEN
Thumbs up 70 (27.6%)
Thumbs in the middle 97 (38.2%)
Thumbs down 87 (37.3%)

BEST MATCH POLL
Chris Jericho vs. Christian 194
HHH vs. Randy Orton 32

WORST MATCH POLL
Tyson Tomko vs. Steven Richards 226

Normally, one show, particularly like Unforgiven, is here today and gone tomorrow. There have been worse shows, although most WWE PPV shows were better. But there are some scary signs, and more people than ever before seem to be picking up on them.

The product is stale. Without some badly needed switches of key talent, there are no new match-ups. On the Raw brand, they came up with the scenario in the summer of 2002 to build up HHH vs. Randy Orton as a top program. Orton seemed to be the most improved character of the year, with his superstar look and improving ability. He came off like a superstar in matches with Mick Foley, Chris Benoit, Edge, and Chris Jericho, in building to the big angle. The angle was rushed. The wrong guy turned face. The first match took place too soon. And the people didn't care.

HHH, on his way to becoming a 17-time world champion, hit No. 9 on 9/12 at the Rose Garden in Portland, through a major outside interference ending and a pedigree on a chair, ending Orton's four-week reign as the youngest champion in company history. This tied Rock's record as the most world title reigns in the history of the WWE (this part of the story was never told). The match was flat and even dull for a while, with little crowd reaction until the run-ins. It wasn't bad, but there is a standard for a WWE PPV main event, and they didn't come close. Worse, it was that situation where once the ref went down, you could see the crowd turn its head toward the entrance, knowing the run-in was coming. It was such a predictable sequence of events, and the crowd knew it, since it happens on Raw all the time, and most of the spots have been the house show main event finishes. Like a lot of finishes, it's exciting when it's done the first time, or a few times, but it's been overdone. Chris Jericho became IC champion for a record seventh time as well (if you include the 2000 Royal Rumble where he went from a period as co-champion with Chyna, to winning a match and being the champion, as a new title reign), breaking the record of six he held with Jeff Jarrett (which naturally wasn't about to be acknowledged).

The bad news was Portland, OR. Fans in that city tore the house down in the previous company shows, including the first show at the Rose Garden drawing one of the best house show crowds in the U.S. in years. This time, the first PPV ever in Oregon, drew 8,313 fans, which was 7,000 paying a little under $500,000. In another market, it wouldn't be so bad, but Portland had been considered an extra special market. It had a long history of accepting old-school wrestling. Unlike most of the new markets the company has started to go to in recent years, the return after a decade, caused by a strict commission, was huge. The feeling from one person in the company live was that they really were there to enjoy the show, but were killed by the show. Jim Ross even used the word "raucous" early in the show for the crowd, which may have acted like they were going to be before the show went on the air, but certainly weren't as it went on. Based on our volume of feedback, the PPV probably did a low range number.

They were fairly hot for the Maven vs. Rodney Mack Heat match, and the first match, a Ric Flair & Batista vs. Chris Benoit & William Regal match, got a nice reaction, probably the best of any match on the show. The killer was Tyson Tomko vs. Steven Richards in a disaster of biblical proportions. It was probably the worst company PPV match in years, with the crowd violently turning on the match, and turning on the show. Still, the main event was nearly two hours later, and they saw some good matches in the interim, so even though a lot of people both internally and some fans said so, it's hard for me to believe the awful prelim match is the main reason there was no heat in the main event until the run-in finish.

Everyone knows the problems. Many have seen it for years, but it's now happening right before everyone's eyes and is no longer possible to deny. The worst part about pro wrestling, as we've seen with TNA, and with other companies that have gone down, is what happens is, usually under pressure, the people in charge get more insular. Their customers at times become their enemies, because they are voicing disapproval. The wrestlers get blamed for things often out of their hands. There is the reverting back to the past, and you can always learn from the past, but the main thing to learn from the past is that you can't recreate it as it was. You can only learn lessons from it and apply them to improve the present. I don't even know if anyone has noticed this, but with the exception of Jericho, who probably only had the title because Edge is injured, every champion in both brands right now is a heel. The idea that chasing the heel champion is the right thing for business is often true, yet the WWF was built on the opposite. But right now, since they usually (unless Undertaker is challenging) do clean finishes in the key matches, it means the audience is going to be disappointed with almost every house show title match finish. The idea of leaving the house show with heat to get the people back next week from Southern style wrestling in another era isn't applicable, because they don't come back for months. People need heroes they can identify with. They probably don't have to always win, but in the end, your emotional attachment with the fan has to pay off. When it doesn't, the fan will drift away.

The unexplained Jonathan Coachman run-in wearing a ref shirt in the HHH vs. Orton title match was because of a communications snafu. It was scheduled as something on the PPV where Eric Bischoff would order Coachman to the ring. Nobody told Bischoff. People were looking everywhere for him for most of the PPV. Finally, when they realized he wasn't there, he was reached on his cell phone. When told he was needed back in the building, he said he was already two hours away, saying that since he had no more spots on the show, he had left to get a head start for Seattle.

Probably the most important thing took place on Raw the next night, as Vince McMahon showed up and announced there would be major changes to Raw on 9/20 in Tucson, although nothing that major is scheduled. Some different ideas have been thrown out, including top talent trades, but nothing for sure. All the big names on Raw are already paired off, so at least as of Monday there were no immediate plans. They had a screw-up in Canada. The commercial for Taboo Tuesday played and it listed the main event as HHH defending the title against an opponent chosen by the fans, which was scheduled to be the big surprise. Given how screwed up internet polls are, even doing things like they are, focusing everything on Orton as the contender, doesn't guarantee he'll win the polling. The audience they are aiming contains enough people who will get their jollies by voting a million times for something screwy, such as the WWE web site poll where 40% of the voters picked the Tomko match as the best on the show. I guess they can always fix the poll if too many people decide to vote for Ric Flair or Val Venis as the challenger as a joke. The show on 10/19 in Milwaukee, they are leading the fans to voting for HHH vs. Orton in a rematch (which is the planned main event at this point), Edge (if he's healthy) vs. Chris Jericho, Christian vs. Shawn Michaels (which may be a TV match for a shot at Jericho if Edge isn't ready) and there was also a tease of Benoit & William Regal vs. La Resistance for the tag titles. The idea is believed to be fans will vote for some matches, and other matches will be announced and fans will vote for stipulations on those matches.

A. Maven pinned Rodney Mack in 4:42 with a schoolboy. The finishing sequence saw Maven, who was a school teacher in the Portland area when he signed up for "Tough Enough" (but was never promoted with the local tie), missed a bulldog off the top rope he was supposed to hit. Mack sold it anyway. They had a bad match. Jazz tripped Maven. Maven went after her, allowing Mack to schoolboy him using the tights. Maven powered Mack out, collided with Jazz, and fell back into the schoolboy with tights for the pin.

1. Chris Benoit & William Regal beat Ric Flair & Batista in 15:05. This felt like a Raw match that went too long. Work was fine and Benoit is always good. Everyone in the crowd went nuts when, after lots of teasing, Flair did the face-first comedy pratfall. Flair and Benoit chopped the hell out of each other. They went to the spot where they got heat on Regal, to set up Benoit's hot tag. Flair actually did a somersault tag to Batista at one point. Benoit did three German suplexes to Flair and one to Batista. He did the diving head-butt to Batista and went for the crossface, but Batista picked him up from the position and slammed him, which was a good new power spot. Finish saw Benoit counter the figure four and make Flair tap to the crossface. **1/2

They broke up the Christian/Trish Stratus romance without any teasing or problems. Christian came back and wanted Tyson Tomko for himself in the divorce settlement. Stratus wanted him as well. Since Stratus had the ability to sleep with him, she won out, leaving Christian on his own that night. Christian called her a slut. After all that, Christian and Tomko were back together again the next night on Raw with no explanation regarding the PPV.

2. Trish Stratus retained the women's title over Victoria in 8:21. Fans were chanting "slut" at Stratus, which was the idea. Victoria did a press-slam into a gut buster. Victoria was on top for a plancha, but Tomko pulled Stratus to safety. Finish saw Victoria distracted by Tomko and Stratus using the stratusfaction (springboard bulldog) for the pin. Tomko had a chair and was threatening Victoria, when Steven Richards in drag showed up. This led to the worst segment on a PPV in recent memory. *1/4

3. Tyson Tomko pinned Steven Richards in 6:24, but it felt like six hours and 24 minutes. There's nothing worse than comedy that nobody wants to see. It was largely Tomko beating on Richards the entire match, and he looked so green that people were booing this and chanting "You suck," "Boring," and worse. When Richards came out in drag, fans were chanting "Stevie." Ross and Lawler said the identity was the worst kept secret in wrestling, but that they would play along. They did the mock surprise when the wig came off. Richards was wearing a bra with falsies and Tomko was beating on him with the falsies. Richards did the match wearing granny panties and dress socks after his dress, sports bra and wig came off. Richards made a brief comeback using a testicular claw twice. People didn't even get off on that. As Richards went to retrieve his bra, Tomko beat him up again and gave him the neckbreaker off the torture rack finish. This is an easy worst match of the year candidate. Mere words cannot describe this crime against humanity. -***

4. Chris Jericho beat Christian to win the IC title in a ladder match in 22:29. They had to come out when the show was in the toilet. They worked real hard and took some big bumps, and got the crowd at the end, but it wasn't easy. Fans finally chanted "CLB" at Christian after all these months. They didn't involve the ladders early. Christian did an unprettier on the floor. Christian catapulted Jericho into the ladder. They were then doing the climbing and taking the bumps off the top of an eight foot ladder. Jericho used a form of the walls of Jericho on the top of the ladder. Jericho's big bump was having the ladder knocked from under him, and he came down and his butt landed from eight feet on the ladder. I thought he may have broken his tailbone in what is now the famous ladder enema spot. Christian brought out a ten-foot ladder. Both were climbing to the top of their respective ladders, when Jericho used a facebuster off the top of the ladder, climbed back up, and got the belt. They didn't do any of the really psycho bumps of some of the famous ladder matches of the past, except the facebuster. But a very good match that really saved the show. ***3/4

Edge confronted Jericho after the match, reminding him that he never won the title from the guy who had it. The next PPV is Taboo Tuesday on 10/19, and the idea is the fans pick the matches using internet voting. I guess they wanted to tell fans a match to pick.

5. Shawn Michaels pinned Kane in 18:02. Michaels looks to have gained some weight since he left in June to be with his wife. It drives me crazy how badly this was botched. He could have done the interview about how his wife was scared to death while she was seven months pregnant, and how he couldn't talk to his son when he was born. He should have made the big comeback unannounced, instead of appearing and talking fine at the convention. This was set up with such a great angle, and because of follow-up, to the fans, this was a cold match. Funny line was Lawler noting Kane had big feet when Ross talked about size 18's, and said, "You know what that means," and Ross said, "Big socks." Michaels was rusty and seemed to get tired in his first TV match since June, and lacked his usual spark. Even not at his best, it was a good match. Michaels used a pescado. Kane slammed Michaels on the table on the side instead of the center, which had to do wonders for Michaels' back. Calling an audible, he then suplexed Michaels through the Spanish table. Michaels juiced heavy as he was taking a beating. He tried something new, stomping his feet ten times like Jim Duggan, and getting the people to count, before doing the sweet chin music. Kane beat him to the punch with a high kick for a near fall. Kane did a clothesline off the top for another near fall. Michaels blocked a choke slam by using a low blow. Michaels then clocked Kane hard with a chair. Later, Kane went for a chair, but Lita got it away from him. Michaels went for the superkick, but Kane stopped him again and snatched him with a choke slam. Michaels escaped and hit the superkick for the pin. ***1/4

6. La Resistance retained the World tag titles over Rhyno & Tajiri in 9:40. They were put in the death spot. There was a USA chant when Tajiri was in with Robert Conway, which caused some announcer bickering. Tajiri threw some good kicks and match was good, even if people weren't going to care. Rhyno gored Sylvain Grenier, but Conway put his foot on the rope. Tajiri threw a hard kick at Conway. Grenier hit Rhyno with the flagpole and pinned him. **1/4

7. HHH pinned Randy Orton on 24:44 to win the World title. Spots early were designed to get Orton over, as he'd slap HHH around, and beat him to the punch on every spot and even spit all over his chest. They did everything you'd think was smart to get him over as the face, but the crowd wasn't buying him. Orton battered him with the old European uppercuts. HHH got the advantage with a chop block. Crowd was dead. Crowd got into it when HHH used the figure four, but it was more the move being over and the "Whoos" than the match being over. He held it for a long time to continue working the leg. HHH juiced. Orton kept selling the left knee. Ref Earl Hebner was bumped. Orton blocked a pedigree and hit the RKO, but no ref. Everyone looked to the back, and here came Flair and Batista. Orton nailed Flair, and sidestepped Batista as he ended up hitting his shoulder on the post. HHH hit a low blow and Jonathan Coachman ran out in a ref shirt, but Orton kicked out of the pin. Orton knocked down Coachman, and Batista hit a spinebuster for a near fall. Orton back dropped out of a pedigree, and in the same move, hit the RKO on Coachman. That was pretty cool. He gave Flair, the bumping machine, a thumb to the eye and hit the RKO on him, and then gave Batista a low blow. HHH cracked Orton with a hard chair shot, and followed with a pedigree on the chair. Batista threw Hebner into the ring and he made the count to win the title. **3/4


Spoiler for 12/6/04:
The plane crash involving NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol on 11/28, which killed his 14-year old son Teddy, and left him in serious condition, makes one realise that few people’s influence on the modern history of this business have been as underplayed as Ebersol’s.

Ebersol, and wife Susan St. James (a famous actress in her day, whose lone pro wrestling appearance was doing color commentary on Wrestlemania II), who was not on the charter jet that crashed near Montrose, CO, were social friends of Vince and Linda McMahon in the 80’s. This led to two major business deals with almost totally opposite results. The first, “Saturday Night’s Main Event”, starting in 1985, brought pro wrestling to more viewers than anything in the history of the industry. The second, the short lived XFL, saw the two reach a deal that put NBC and WWF in partnership for the formation of a football league that lasted just one season, and was a debacle of monumental proportions. The league drew some of the lowest prime time ratings in the history of major network television, and lost approximately $120 million. It also led to the beginning of a slide in the popularity of WWF as a wrestling company, which continues today.

St. James and the rest of the family were in the process of flying home to Connecticut on an 18-seat private jet from Los Angeles, where they watched the USC-Notre Dame football game. Their son, Charlie, who was on the flight, attends Notre Dame. Another son, Willie, who was not on the trip, attends USC. The plane landed in Montrose, CO, to let St. James off, while Ebersol, and the other sons, a pilot, co-pilot and flight attendant, flew first to South Bend, to drop off Charlie, and then were planning on going to Connecticut. The plan crashed and burned on takeoff after a snowstorm, although it was only lightly snowing at the time of the crash. A witness said the plane exploded while taking off.

After two WWF television specials on MTV, one in 1984 and another in 1985 which shot the angle that led to the first Wrestlemania both based around Cyndi Lauper as a wrestling manager, drew two of the biggest ratings in the history of that network, Ebersol, one of the original architects of Saturday Night Live in the 70’s, and Executive Producer of the show at the time, put together a deal with McMahon. At the time, Saturday Night Live would do three live shows and one taped show each month. Ebersol, feeling wrestling was a hot pop culture thing to jump onto, envisioned a wrestling special in the repeat time slot. It never really wound up a monthly thing. There were six such specials in 1986; it’s first full year, and five in 1987. In all, NBC broadcast 29 specials in that time slot between May 11, 1985, and its final airing on April 27, 1991.

The show, a combination of comedic sketches with wrestlers, and wrestling matches, ended up a winning formula for both sides. The debut show came on the heels of the first Wrestlemania, which may have been the most publicised of all the Manias due to Lauper and Mr T. The show was taped on May 10, 1985, from the Nassau Coliseum, featuring an appearance by Mr T, and a main event where Hulk Hogan pinned Bob Orton. It drew an 8.8 rating, better than Saturday Night averaged in the same time slot.

All of the SNME specials were taped, sometimes as much as five weeks earlier. Unlike with Raw and Smackdown today, SNME usually featured matches that were non-program matches, ie bouts that didn’t duplicate what was being presented at house shows (which were considered far more important in those days), or PPV. Hogan would usually face someone who was considered not that the level of a main event heel, like Orton, Don Muraco, Hercules Hernandez and Nikolai Volkoff on the first two shows, someone who was a headliner but not who he was working a program with (like Terry Funk), or people like Paul Orndorff or Big Bossman, who he had huge programs with, but the blow-off matches at every arena had already taken place before the TV match aired.

Ebersol got credit for putting together a new concept show that drew ratings. McMahon got the credibility and exposure of his stars appearing before far more fans that watched his syndicated and cable shows at the time. It was important because he was expanding into new markets where WWF didn’t have a history in, and because the usual top rated cable wrestling show during the period, the TBS shows from Atlanta, were controlled by rival Jim Crockett. Even though Crockett’s show outrated McMahon’s on cable as often as not, a large percentage of people who knew McMahon’s stars, including most of the media at the time, didn’t even know Crockett’s top stars. Others who did considered them second rate, since they weren’t on NBC. Among all the coups McMahon made in taking over wrestling in the late 80’s. the affiliation with Ebersol was one of the biggest.

The show was a bona fide sensation when Hogan v Funk on January 14th 1986, drew a 10.4 rating, at the time the second largest rating in history of television in the 11:30pm Saturday night time slot. It was the beginning of a string of shows that topped the 9.0 mark. The March 1, 1986 show, taped in Phoenix, as a lead-in to that year’s Mania saw Mr T do a mock boxing match with Orton, and drew a 10.0 rating. The peak was leading up to Wrestlemania III, when a show two weeks before the big show, on March 14, 1987 from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (taped three weeks earlier), headlined by a Battle Royal that featured Hogan and Andre, drew an 11.6 rating, which to this day remains the highest rating any show in that time slot as ever done. A January 27, 1990 special, building up the Hogan v Ultimate Warrior match, featuring Hogan and Warrior in a tag match against Mr Perfect and The Genius (Lanny Poffo), nearly equalled that mark, with an 11.1 rating.

The success of those specials led to five prime time live main event specials on Friday nights that Ebersol and McMahon co-produced. The biggest was the first, on February 5, 1988, with the first nationally pushed Hogan v Andre rematch since Wrestlemania III. McMahon had secretly hired Crockett referee Earl Hebner, whose twin brother Dave had worked for him for a few years. Earl played the heel Hebner brother who counted Hogan’s shoulder down for three, even though Hogan had clearly kicked out, resulting in Andre getting the title. It ended a four-plus year run of Hogan as champion, and was monumental since much of the audience watching, having been brought into wrestling by WWF’s expansion, had never seen Hogan lose, and many had never seen anyone but Hogan with the title. Andre then gave the title to Ted DiBiase (actually, Andre screwed up his live speech, saying he was giving the tag team title to DiBiase), which was the main angle to set up a tournament for vacant title for Mania that year. The 15.2 rating for the show and 33 million viewers are both US all-time records for pro wrestling, and it’s very doubtful either number will ever be approached again.

Ratings fell off slightly in 1990 for the specials, which were down to quarterly. The death knell came when a February 1, 1991, live Friday night main event special, headlined by Hogan and Tugboat (Fred Ottman) v Earthquake (John Tenta) and Dino Bravo, largely built around Hogan going to military bases and exploiting the ongoing Gulf War leading to a match with Sgt Slaughter, drew a 6.7 rating, a number considered horrible at the time, for a prime time network show. Ebersol, by this point, had been promoted to head of NBC Sports. NBC lost interest in wrestling, which was about to nosedive in popularity, although the final show under the contract, which aired on April 27, 1991, featuring Hogan in a Battle Royal, drew a respectable 7.7. After the network dropped WWE, FOX picked it up and even drew a good 8.2 rating for an early 1992 special with Hogan and Sid Justice v Ric Flair and Undertaker, but with the company swimming upstream of controversy and with its popularity down, plus Hogan taking a leave of absence, the final Saturday Night’s Main Event on Fox drew a 6.1 rating on October 27, 1992, with Warrior and Randy Savage v DiBiase and IRS in a tag title match as the main event.

Not nearly as well known is that Ebersol was also responsible for my first major media break. In 1989, while Ebersol and McMahon were partners in their TV venture, Frank Deford was starting up a national daily sports newspaper, known simply as The National. It was owned by Emilio Azcarriga, one of the richest men in Mexico, a culture which, like Japan and many other countries, had several successful national all-sports papers. Trying to do something different, Deford made the decision to do a weekly pro wrestling column, which ended up being, based on what he would say in many interviews, the most popular column in the paper. Still, it was heavily criticized that in those days that a major newspaper would cover pro wrestling, an Deford was blasted by many, including, notably, Howard Cosell, for the decision. Deford was also social friends with Ebersol, who he knew was involved in wrestling, and asked him if he had any recommendations as to who should do the pro wrestling column he envisioned. For reasons nobody has ever explained, being that McMahon at the time used to call me “Public Enemy No 1,” his business partner (who secretly subscribed to The Observer for years using his secretary’s name) and friend told Deford there was only one person he should even consider, and said my name. The newspaper folded, piling up nearly XFL level losses, in the summer of 1991.

The second high-profile affiliation between McMahon and Ebersol was in 2001, for the XFL. When McMahon came up with the idea a year earlier to compete with the NFL, producing a spring football league, the idea was scoffed at. Ebersol, who had made the decision to give up the rights to the NFL due to the fact that rights fees had gotten too high and it was a money loser (yet at the same time a huge prestige builder, as FOX overspent for NFL rights, and largely made its network a success because of the prestige and spin-off factor), called McMahon up and wanted to go in as partners on the venture. Although after the failure, some tried to spin this as a negative, it was anything but. If the XFL had opened with UPN and TNN, the other networks it got to sign on, nobody would have cared after the first week. With NBC, they at least got people to care, even if by the midpoint of the season, the venture had turned into a laughing stock.

Before the league started, the WWF’s popularity was sky high. While they were a few months past their peak, few except the most ardent of fans recognized the slight dips as anything more than a small bump in the road. McMahon was at the time considered the great sports promoter of our time, with a Midas touch by many. Even though every attempts to start a new league over the past decades was a terrible failure, McMahon, who clearly had no long-term plan or idea what he was getting into, was lauded as having the secret to drawing teenagers, an audience most sports were losing. Ebersol gave him Saturday night prime time, which due to a number of reasons, had turned into the worst night of the week for television. The first week of the XFL was a huge ratings success, drawing a 9.49 rating. But ratings nosedived in week two, and by the fourth week, there was little question this was a failure of monumental proportions. It only lasted one season, and the company, and most say McMahon, have never fully recovered from the blow.

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Regarding the Bob Holly situation, the full details one the thing is when Rene Dupree was driving Holly’s rental car, and got the ticket, he never informed Holly there was a ticket, and Holly didn’t find out until he got a bench warrant where he had to fly into the city to clear things up. He was fined for punching Dupree’s eye, but not fired. As noted, there were wrestlers who went to bat for him, saying Dupree had it coming since Dupree was immature backstage. Aside from the fine, the punishment of putting Chris Masters over in a dark match at a TV taping was a total joke, when it’s considered punishment. The fine, reportedly $10,000, is pretty significant, if it is the real figure. Dupree lost face in the locker room, even it may have been a set-up situation and it was a suckerpunch deal, because of the fact he ran away. Holly in some circles is a hero in the Smackdown locker room, which speaks volumes of what people thought of Dupree, as he and Grenier are not well liked at all. The reaction we’ve heard is that after the fact, Dupree has been acting pretty much the same. There is a reality to young guys who achieve stardom quickly and make a lot of money that it, more often than not, goes to their head because they often aren’t grounded enough to handle it. Dupree should have been the exception, since he’s been around the business and working since he was around 14 or 15, but wasn’t. Still, it was time to cut the chord on Holly, although business politics are such as when Undertaker stands up for you, firing someone who did something popular with a lot of the wrestlers is a tough political move. Holly is no more valuable than the wrestlers who were let go, none of whom had his track record. In fact, in New Japan, when Akira Maeda did something similar, and he was 100 times the star Holly is, he was fired (well, he was told he had to tour Mexico to keep his job, which at the stage of his career and with his mindset, ended up meaning he was fired). When a guy’s rep for putting younger guys over gets to the point it’s almost a joke about a car wreck waiting to happen when he’s in with the new young heels who have to get over because they are being groomed for top spots, and we, before the matches, laugh about them (his house show program with Heidenreich and his PPV match with Mordecai come to mind) because we know he’s going to screw up the younger guys by not making them look strong, and it happens, and continues to happen, and nothing is done, and then this happens. I just don’t see a purpose in him being there. Mordecai lost his job over looking so bad in a PPV match with Holly, and Holly was the veteran whose job it should have been to get Mordecai over for Undertaker. Not that Mordecai deserved the push, but when you know something is going to screw up as soon as it’s booked, you know why and how, it happens like clockwork, and the young guy in over his head is let go instead of the veteran who is supposed to put him over strong and doesn’t, is something to think about. Interestingly, Holly and Dupree worked together the next night after the incident on the 11/22 house show in Elmira NY, with no problem.

At this point, Armageddon on 12/12 in Atlanta has JBL v Undertaker v Booker v Guerrero for the WWE Title, Cena v Jesus for the US Title in a streetfight, Suzuki and Dupree v RVD and Mysterio for the tag titles, the two finalists from Tough Enough in a boxing match, Jackie v Dawn Marie (I’m guessing with Haas as ref), and they’d need at least a couple of more matches which at this point they aren’t even hinting at. Maybe Show v Reigns and Jindrak and a cruiserweight title bout

At press time, “The Rise And Fall Of ECW” fell from No1 last week to No4 on the best selling sports DVD listings on Amazon.com (No267 overall). The next highest prow wrestling titles were Monday Night Wars at No55 and Wrestlemania XX at No64. Ric Flair’s “To Be The Man” was No19 on the best selling sports books, while Adam Copeland On Edge was No31 and Tributes II was No54

Carlito had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder this past week in Puerto Rico and will be out two to four months. He was told he could have gone without surgery, but in doing so, would have risked needing reconstructive surgery, with another injury, which is a year and half on the shelf

New Year’s Revolution isn’t the only PPV that will air on free TV in the UK. Six of the scheduled 14 events next year will air on free TV on Sky One, with the other eight airing as PPV events on Sky Box Office

Sky in the UK announced its new schedule starting in 2005 headlined by, for the fist time ever, live coverage of Raw every Monday night at 2am, with a Wednesday night at 9pm replay. Smackdown will air on Fridays at 9:30pm and Saturdays at 10am and 11pm. Experience airs on Sundays at 11am, Velocity at Noon and 10pm, Heat at 1pm and 11pm, plus tons of replays of all those shows

TSN’s Off The Record is interviewing HHH on 12/7. HHH was coming to Toronto on 12/1 to do it. It was scheduled as Orton, but some politics went down. OTR has had many newsworthy interviews with top wrestling personalities. Bret Hart is on 12/13, but that will be part of a panel discussion. I don’t anticipate HHH being asked about Hart, as there are current issues with the product that should fill the show

Some Raw notes from 11/29:

It was a very good Battle Royal, as they told a few stories. Batista clotheslined Flair over the top. Batista later insincerely said it was an accident. The company realises how wild people went the previous week with Batista, so one would assume there is a long-term (please, long-term) idea to turn him. Eugene eliminated Maven which led to a Maven turn. Fans booed a lot when Benjamin was eliminated by Edge, so Benjamin is starting to catch on. Final four were Batista, Jericho, Benoit and Edge. Batista threw out Jericho. Batista and Benoit were in the ropes and Edge tried to eliminate both, but Benoit managed to roll back in and Batista was out. Benoit and Edge then fought, ending on the apron, and both jumped off the apron, landing at about the same time (technically, Edge landed first by a millisecond). They had the refs arguing over who won the match, which went 18:31, leading to the next controversy. Orton, under pressure, went to Vince. Vince explained that Orton was GM and had full power and needed to make a decision. Of course this made no sense when Vince overruled Orton’s decision earlier then the company apparently decided what they advertised wasn’t the best idea. Edge wanted the shot and Orton said he’d get back to him later.

They decided to turn Maven based on the fact at all the house shows when he worked with Edge, they couldn’t get the fans to cheer him. Well, I guess it was the only move, but what turned Maven was the booking in his match with HHH. If he’s going to feud with Eugene, it’s a prelim feud, but Maven wasn’t even on the radar a month ago so it’s an improvement for him. If they were really serious about the tease of him in Evolution, he’ll the Paul Roma of Evolution.

Flair was mad at Big Dave for eliminating him from the Battle Royal, saying they were there to win together, and then go into the main event and lay down for HHH. Flair said he’d have done it and Dave had this look on his face and Flair said, you would have laid down, wouldn’t you ? Dave didn’t answer. They are doing everything right that they screwed up in the Orton deal here.

Main event saw the title held up with HHH v Benoit v Edge in 14:23 in a ***3/4 match. This was an excellent match with great heat. Benoit did a tope on both of them early. Benoit used the sharpshooter on Edge but HHH saved. He got HHH in the crossface, but Flair and Batista came out and Batista pulled Benoit out of the ring and KO’d him with a clothesline. Orton came out as HHH and Flair were booted out. Batista seemed happy to be booted out. Benoit used a German suplex and sharpshooter on Edge but HHH saved. HHH attacked Orton. Benoit did three more German suplexes on Edge and went to the top for the diving headbutt, but HHH shoved him off after a ref bump. HHH got the chair, but Orton hit the ring and stopped him from using it. Orton hit HHH with the chair, sending him over the guardrail. Benoit put the crossface on Edge. Edge wouldn’t tap. Benoit rolled onto his back. I couldn’t believe they were doing the Sasaki-Fujita finish, since that was the worst finish of all time. Actually, I think they were doing the Newton-Hughes finish that inspired Angle-Undertaker (tape before pin question) combined with Angle-Puder (the guy with the submission is on his back and is pinned before the tap). So the ref counted three on Benoit and Edge tapped. Mike Chioda said Edge won the title and Earl Hebner said Benoit won. In reality, this time in slow-mo, no question Edge won since Edge’s first tap was slightly after the count went down by Chioda for the three, and technically you have to tap three times before it’s a submission. Edge’s nose looked like it had exploded with blood everywhere, perhaps from an errant elbow. All three worked really hard in this one. So the belt is held up pending next week in Charlotte. Overall very good show aside from the lingerie deal

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Regarding Tough Enough, the pressure is getting to people because there is $1 million at stake, and everyone figures Puder is the favorite (in our last poll, taken after the TV special, he got a whopping 83% of the vote; but a look at numerous web sites shows the final results hundreds of times for different people championed by different web sites, so in many ways the voting aspect has made this a really screwed up popularity contest). Both Mizanin and Reeves were complaining last week about he got to go last, and that him doing the best against the Bashams was because they were blown up by fighting everyone else first. Mizanin calling Puder a brown-noser had to do with the night before the sex test deal, when Puder saw Moolah and Mae Young on the plane, he was very nice to them. At the time, nobody was told they were going to have anything to do with Tough Enough, but it didn’t take a genius to figure it out, either. Mizanin has also told people his strategy was to go after Puder personally, figuring him as the toughest competition, but after this week, when that looked to have backfired as the live crowds booed him. He responded by yelling “boo me” at the crowd like a spoiled child. Reeves nearly cost himself being cut on the spot (except they won’t cut, although coincidentally or not, he was said to have received the fewest votes just days late and was then cut) by posting on the rajah.com website a negative post on Puder saying he’s done well only because he’s had luck on his side. “He just doing this to market himself for ultimate fighting and he makes it, he will not last. He was never even in the UFC and has only had one real fight, his other three were nothing. I respect him as an athlete, but I love wrestling too much to let this guy win this thing. You don’t have to vote for me, but please do not vote for that prick Puder. He won the sex test because he kissed both Mae and Moolah’s asses for two days straight when we have been told not to do that type of shit”. Regarding Puder beating him in arm wrestling deal, even though he had about 50 pounds on him, “He got very lucky again.” Within a day, Reeves realised how badly he screwed up and asked them to take his post down. Apparently Reeves’ hated for Puder got real bad because Puder had said his name, when asked on the WWE website, who was the next to be cut. Reeves had bad mouthed Puder on the special, although we’re not sure what he said, but his post on the website said for people to watch the special as he was going to expose Puder for what he is. Whatever he said wound up being edited off the show. This only furthered some feelings Vince wants Puder to win when all of Reeves’ and Mizanin’s comments were edited off the show. Usually, McMahon loves to exploit controversy (see Diva Search) and in this one they seemed on the special to avoid it completely. Mizanin on his website continued to knock Puder, first claiming he was lucky and the only reason he came closest to getting the flags two weeks ago was because the Bashams were blown up. Reeves ended up getting heat with the office because he apparently caused a scene at a health food store in Stamford that many in the company frequent. Puder had put one of his posters to vote for him up at the store. Reeves and Rodimer came into the store, tore down the poster, and caused enough of a scene that the owner called the office. Rodimer ended up being cut a few days later. The owner complained to the company, which told Reeves he would have to go to the store and apologise, and also bring a bunch of WWE merchandise to the store to make up for the company being apologetic about what happened. Reeves then challenged Puder to an arm wrestling match, which wasn’t taped, and they made some sort of bet on it, with Reeves saying the only reason Puder won was because he (Reeves) had the harder first round match (no question he did). Reeves beat him, too, which actually only made things worse, because in his own mind he had his evidence that Puder winning all the contests was just luck. There was a feeling that the comments of both on the special only came off like major sour grapes and would have actually hurt them. There was a little heat on both, as Mizanin was trying to play bad guy wrestler stalling in the arm wrestling and spitting on his hand to show Puder up, but Puder responded after locking up, by pretending to struggle, then laughing in Mizanin’s face and putting him down like it was nothing, and Mizanin did get on the TV special out that Reeves wanted Puder out and that he was mad at Puder for laughing at him, although he clearly stated that he was trying to unnerve (and more accurately, upstage) Puder doing the heel stalling arm wrestling gig before the lock up. Reeves, as noted last week, was telling people he was going to call Puder out on TV if he wasn’t cut, but then broke two ribs in training. In the Tough Enough contests the past two weeks, there was enough interest that there was backstage betting, even among some very important people in the company, on the outcome of the arm wrestling contest. Others complained that people in the company who won’t give anyone the time of day are being nice to Puder, and he’s the only one Vince seems to recognize is even around. The fact Rodimer was cut seems to be a sure sign the yare going by the real voting, even though by the written rules of the of the contest, they don’t have to. Based on what we’ve been told, when it comes to the wrestling itself in the gym, Mizanin is ahead of everyone, largely due to his two plus years of working indie shows in the Southwest. After that, among the rest, all of whom are novices, it was Puder, Rodimer, Reeves and Smith (who actually had the second most training going in, as he had been affiliated with UPW for months, while Puder, Rodimer and Reeves had zero pro wrestling training before being picked), in that order

WWE is losing its TV in Israel, as the Hot Action channel carrying the shows has said they’re not interested in renewing the deal. WWE had failed months back to reach a deal in Israel for PPV events. They nearly reached a deal with SummerSlam, which was advertised as airing, but pulled at the last minute. WWE wanted to charge a higher price than Israeli cable companies thought was viable, as they wanted more than double the price of the most expensive PPV events on Israeli TV

The Charlotte Observer had an article on Flair going to the Middle East. Flair said, “It was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been involved in. Not one negative person…I was really amazed at how overwhelmingly positive they guys and gals are over there.” Flair and the rest of the WWE crew (Stratus, Lita, Hurricane, Venis and Benoit) went to Qatar in the Persian Gulf and Djibouti in Eastern Africa. There was one scare, particularly to Flair, who has been in more than his fair share of airplane scares, including a famous 1975 small plane crash, when flying from Djibouti on a five-and-a-half hour flight, the plane lost an engine. One soldier who earned a bravery medal on the front lines gave his medal to Flair. The trip was referred to by those as a trip from hell, but I don’t think anyone wants to publicly say that. Between the plane problem, and that fact all the wresters stayed in tents together with just a sheet separating them, and problems with the office person who accompanied them that several were about ready to kill when it was over made it more negative than anyone can let on

Tomko is having trouble with fluid in his elbows. He can’t buy a break

Comments from guys who went through the destruction of WCW and this period have gotten more pro-WCW of late, not by everyone, but from at least a few. The reaction was at least when WCW was going down, and everyone knew it was, prelim guys were free to at least have good matches, whereas now they’re miserable and can’t have good matches either because everything is so structured.

Mooneyham also interviewed Mysterio. Rey was still mad at Bischoff having him unmask in WCW. “He didn’t care. It was an ego trip, and it was all about Hogan, Hogan, Hogan.” He said he lost his mask because he was making so much money, but he’d questioned if he’d trained his whole life just to see his career go nowhere. He noted he’s pulled back on his style, both because of injuries and because the company has asked him to, but “there’s times when I just want to go out there and do what I used to do,” and mentioned wanting to have the same kind of matches he had eight years ago with Psicosis. He said he thinks the cruiserweight division has a lot more potential than what is being done with it. He said he doesn’t think wrestlers see Smackdown as the “B” brand. He said, about people being cut, that some of them were handed the ball and weren’t ready, and some don’t have the same passion for wrestling that he has. He said he doesn’t want to retire for at least five years, but if he had his way, in three to five years, he’d like to have a modified schedule so he can spend more time with his kids

When Gerald Brisco was asked over the weekend at the Mid Atlantic convention (and I was told the best Q&A of the weekend was the Brisco Brothers) about the Butterbean-Bart Gunn and Puder-Angle situations, he said, “In the case of Butterbean, we were shocked, but in the case of Angle, not that many people know Kurt had no feeling in his arms that night, had already wrestled, and has the neck of a 65-year-old man, but that’s what happens when you take that chance and another star is born.” No feeling in his arms ? Like he would be put in a shoot situation like that ? Please. And another star is born ? They did everything to make sure that didn’t happen, even at the same time they are wanting it to happen. And while he did wrestle, how can one even compare his 20 second match where he destroyed a guy with all the stuff the other guys had to do to be softened up before Angle came out

It appears the next major European tour will be 4/20 to 4/26, with Raw and Smackdown tapings on 4/25 and 4/26

The last listed MSG line-up for the Smackdown house show in 12/5 (which has a chance to be the lowest attended show at MSG in many years) is JBL v Booker v Guerrero for the WWE Title, Angle v Show (probably turning into Show v Jindrak and Reigns to protect Angle’s injury), Undertaker v Heidenreich and if Undertaker wins he gets five minutes with Heyman, Suzuki and Dupree v RVD and Mysterio for the tag titles, Spike defends the cruiserweight belt against Kidman, Moore and Nunzio, Chavo v Jesus, Holly and Haas v Reigns and Jindrak, and Jackie v Dawn Marie

HHH appears 12/16 on Conan O’Brien

The actual crowd for the 11/6 show at Arena Monterrey for the Raw crew was 7,707 paid and $272,886. There have been some good crowds as of late as the Raw house show on 11/7 in Hidalgo, TX, was a legit sellout (6,500 seats), which makes Hidalgo the company’s best US market with three sellouts in a row, doing so for both Raw and Smackdown brands

From last weekend the 11/19 Raw show at Cobo Arena in Detroit drew 3,300. The 11/20 Raw show in Kingston, Ontario drew 2,500, which wasn’t an official sellout, but was less than 100 tickets shy. The 11/20 show at the DC Amory actually drew 1,400

The estimates for this weekend were 11/26 in Hershey for Raw at 2,000 and 11/27 in Philadelphia for Raw at 4,200 (actual number) and $160,000. We didn’t get an estimate for the 11/28 Raw in Bethlehem. The 11/28 Smackdown brand show in North Charleston, SC, drew about 3,000. The 11/29 Smackdown house show in Raleigh drew about 2,200


Spoiler for Scott Hall Story, Feb 2002:
Last week at RAW, Scott Hall was reportedly dragged off to his hotel room from the public spectacle he made of himself or goofing off, which again, totally embarrassed WWF management who tried to tell the WWF locker room that Hall changed his ways.

When Jim Ross and Vince McMahon told Steve Austin that he'd be wrestling Scott Hall at Wrestlemania, last Tuesday in Los Angeles for the Smackdown tapings, Austin felt something to the effect of why even waste my time, as Hall won't be around in the WWF by the time Wrestlemania does come around.

Austin wasn't the only wrestler against Hall. Several WWF wrestlers came to management and told them that they didn't want to work with Scott Hall.

At the Smackdown Tapings in Los Angeles last week, the individuals that Scott Hall angered about their finishing move was the Dudley Boyz. Hall went up to the Dudleys and either said "that's a great move you have (the 3D). I can't wait to kick out of it" or that's a realistic finisher you have" in a sarcastic way, and then laughed afterward when mocking the move. It's said that this kind of attitude is typical Scott Hall, as really seen in WCW, and the current WWF roster hasn't ever seen someone act this way. Hall also continued to annoy everyone with his claims of turning his life around, too.

At those same Smackdown tapings, Scott Hall was told by Ross and McMahon that this wasn't WCW and his behavior wouldn't be tolerated. It's believed that Hall is exactly one more incident away from being released, even with the major plans surrounding him. Many WWF wrestlers were openly talking to one another about how Hall probably won't last in the WWF.

The only person to STILL stick up for the NWO was Triple H in Los Angeles, as reported before. He actually told Hall, Hogan, and Nash that they'd have to travel to Cincinnati to train with the HWA crew. Hulk Hogan didn't go, however, for whatever reason.

The WWF locker room mood was said to have hit an all time low, and comparisons were made to the situation in 1995, where the WWF was falling apart. The only difference between now and 1995 is that the WWF actually makes money these days.

Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan were called "fantastic politicians", according to several backstage reports. Nash, in particular, was apparently trying to win over locker room leader, the Undertaker. Hogan and Nash did what they had to do in Los Angeles and reportedly split after they finished.

There's currently two trains of thought for Hulk Hogan. Some feel he'll work his way into gaining power backstage for the long haul, while others believe he'll just be a short-term act and he'll begin to take his many vacations like he did during his final days of WCW.

Many believe that Kevin Nash is the most dangerous backstage threat of the 3 members of the NWO, due to his ability to charm and to align himself with whoever has power within the WWF. Hall is said to NOT be dangerous backstage, as he has problems with his own self. Hogan is said to be only out for himself, whereas Kevin Nash seems to be out for influence, such as wanting writers to take care of him. Nash is said to be great at making friends, for political situations or to weasel into an angle.

[ Credit: Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter ]


Spoiler for 7/19/04 (Vengeance Review):
WWE VENGEANCE POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up ------------------------- 153 votes (60.7%)
Thumbs down ---------------------- 12 votes (4.8%)
In the middle ----------------------- 87 votes (34.5%)

Best Match Poll
Randy Orton vs. Edge ------------------- 164 votes
Chris Benoit vs. HHH --------------------- 73 votes

Worst Match Poll
Chris Jericho vs. Batista ----------------- 79 votes
Molly Holly vs. Victoria ------------------- 53 votes
Tajiri & Rhyno vs. Cade & Coachman - 52 votes
Matt Hardy vs. Kane --------------------- 13 votes

The final show of the WWE experiment of three PPV events in six weeks, the 7/11 Vengeance show from the Hartford Civic Center, was a two match show built around Chris Benoit vs. HHH for the World title, with Eugene in the middle, and Randy Orton vs. Edge for the IC title.

Both matches were more than 25:00, and were strong bouts. Early indications are a lower than usual buy rate, most fans either happy or so-so with the event, and another disappointing live gate.

The show drew about 7,000 fans, which was 6,000 paying $370,000, with much of the arena tarped off, and this was for a PPV event in the company's Northeastern home base, featuring its strong crew.

The storyline made it evident that the world title would be decided upon by Eugene, who was being manipulated by HHH, as well as talked with by Benoit. The clear thing from the show is with Evolution dominating everything, combined with a babyface crew that either lacks cool charisma (Benoit and Edge) or has been positioned as not being tippy- top guys (Jericho and far more Matt Hardy), that Evolution is becoming the big babyfaces in the brand. It was evident when probably the biggest face reactions on the show were to Ric Flair and Orton, although Flair was put in a babyface position.

It was a mixed night, largely with Evolution's losers winning and winners losing. HHH lost to Benoit when Eugene accidentally hit him with a chair Eugene was struggling with Benoit over in 29:04. Apparently HHH is now getting off on the idea of long matches, because the next night on television, it was pushed how he dominated Benoit for 28:00 before Eugene's screwing up cost him the match. It was a good main event, but between an over booked finish and too much Eugene, it was, if anything, a slight disappointment. Because Eugene got over so big the first time Rock did the angle with him, they've fooled themselves into thinking he's super over. But his response in recent weeks has been lukewarm, and he and HHH have become the focal point for the entire brand on television, even though he's a prelim act on the road. With HHH portrayed as the guy running the show, with the plan, who outsmarts the babyface at every turn, even though it didn’t work this time, he's about to become the most popular star on the brand.

His rival is Orton, because Orton always cheats to win. Orton and Edge had an interesting mix, as the crowd was split, but vociferous for their favorites. Orton seemed to have the support of the guys, as the Edge cheers were distinctly feminine. The two worked an excellent match, with the crowd gradually shifting to Edge, and great near falls in the closing minutes, before Edge ended Orton's IC title reign that dated back to December 14, 2003, beating Rob Van Dam. The seven-month reign has been talked about as the longest run in seven years, although it really would be not quite that long. The last long reign was Rock, the guy they are grooming Orton to be the new version of, who was given the belt on December 8, 1997, when in reality, Steve Austin refused to do the job in the ring for him. Rock held it until August 30, 1998, when he lost the ladder match in Madison Square Garden to HHH, which was the night where it became obvious Rock was going to be a gigantic deal.

In building Orton, who, like Rock on the night he lost the title, was heavily cheered, it's been both because Evolution are the coolest guys, but also because Orton has always foiled the babyface hope. The idea is to get him credibility with win after win since they are grooming him for a major program with HHH, probably at Wrestlemania. And as talked about many times, the fans don’t buy into Edge's current character at the level he's being pushed. Again, he's also being groomed for HHH, which is why characters on Raw, like Chris Benoit, get the more focused build-up instead of the "give up in a few weeks when it doesn’t click immediately" that has become a company trademark.

The rest of the show was just filler, although Batista didn't help himself any, looking really green in his win over Chris Jericho. He looked like a guy who had no business at this level, but seemed to redeem himself the next night on Raw against Edge.

A. Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) pinned Val Venis (Sean Morley) in 2:52 after a high kick. Nidia came out with Venis to counteract Trish Stratus. Tomko looked bad. So bad that Jim Ross actually pointed out after he'd blown some spots that he was a powerhouse, but that his wrestling was raw. After he delivered the high kick, he stopped, and seemed to be about to do another move when it hit him this was the finish. That was weird. After the match, he was stalking Nidia, but Maven came out and made the save.

1. Tajiri (Yoshihiro Tajiri) & Rhyno (Terry Gerin) beat Jonathan Coachman & Garrison Cade (Lance Cade) in 7:30 when Tajiri pinned Coachman after a high kick. Everyone looked fine in this match except Coachman, but he had more personality out there than the other three combined. Tajiri blew the mist at Cade. Rhyno went to gore Coachman, but he moved, allowing Cade to take it. Tajiri looked good and made the match. * 1/2

The HHH-Eugene show long storyline saw Eugene disappear. When HHH found him, he was talking to Benoit. Benoit was telling him HHH was using him.

2. Batista (David Bautista) pinned Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) in 12:19 after a power bomb, even though Jericho got a foot on the ropes. Batista looked the worst he's looked in a long time. He was even worse than Tomko. Much of it was Batista dominating with power working off a full nelson. Jericho made a brief comeback late in the match. *

3. La Resistance retained the tag titles, beating Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) & Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) via DQ in 12:30. Not much for wrestling, but it had its moments of campy entertainment. Flair & Eugene worked as babyfaces. Even though they had teased that they wouldn't get along, there were no signs of it during the match other than Flair being pissed because Eugene did all of his spots, including the face first flop. Flair came in, and was probably the most popular wrestler on the show, as he got a far bigger reaction than Eugene. He did a few trademark spots, and then sold a lot. They did the Au Revoir on Flair, but Eugene came in and went berserk, and threw down ref Mike Chioda for the DQ. He then gave a stunner to Grenier and a rock bottom to Conway, and then did the people's elbow to Conway. *3/4

The crowd heavily booed the promotional package of the Hardy-Kane-Lita soap opera.

4. Matt Hardy pinned Kane (Glen Jacobs) in 10:34. Hardy had to win, because nobody believed in him a lick. They worked how they should have, but considering how much time has been spent on this angle, it had little heat. Hardy hit Kane with the ring bell, and then hit a twist of fate, but Kane kicked out and sat up. Kane did a sloppy choke slam and then went to get the ring steps. Lita ran in to protect Hardy. Kane came into the ring with the steps but Hardy clocked the steps with a chair and Kane fell backwards and was pinned. **1/4

5. Edge (Adam Copeland) pinned Randy Orton to win the IC title in 26:36. A mixed reaction early, with lots of "Lets Go Orton" chants, which saw "Lets Go Edge" chants follow up from his fans. I thought this was an excellent match, with Orton showing the most poise and star charisma I’ve ever seen from him. Orton worked over Edge's neck for a long time. He did a long cranking chin lock. To some, it was a never ending rest hold, but to others it was working the neck using a unique angle. The timing in the spots was perfect. They got up and did one near fall after another, playing off all of Orton's previous cheating wins, and the crowd heat at the finish was excellent. At one point they traded hard elbow and forearm shots like they were in NOAH. Orton rolled through on a cross body for a near fall. Orton undid the turnbuckle padding. Edge used an implant DDT for a near fall. Orton dropped Edge on the exposed metal and used the ropes for a near fall. Place was popping huge for the near falls. Orton ended up being whipped into the exposed metal and was hit with a spear for the pin and title win. ****1/4

6. Victoria (Lisa-Marie Varon) pinned Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald) in 6:20 in a match where the winner would be next in line for a title shot at the injured Trish Stratus, possibly at SummerSlam. They had no chance whatsoever because of the previous match and just being in that spot on the card. They probably couldn't have done much better, as Holly always works well and Victoria looked great. She did a moonsault block and a plancha. She took a weird bump on the ring steps which made her selling her shoulder so believable. Holly worked on the shoulder. Because of this, Victoria couldn’t do her widow's peak, but still won with a super kick. **1/2

7. Chris Benoit pinned HHH (Paul Levesque) in 29:04 to keep the World title. Most of the match saw HHH work over Benoit's upper chest. They acted as if Benoit suffered a sternum injury by running fast chest first into the turnbuckles. HHH delivered what started as a vertical suplex, but kept dropping Benoit forward on his chest. As HHH was using an abdominal stretch, with the usual Wilbur Snyder reference, Jim Ross mentioned he didn't know if Benoit had ever submitted (wasn't that Kurt Angle match at Rumble just about the best company match of 2003?). Benoit blocked a pedigree into a sharpshooter, and held it a long time before HHH made the ropes. Benoit hit the three German suplex combinations and even did a tope. They had a ref bump here. HHH did a DDT. HHH told Eugene to come out. He did, but Benoit got the crossface and there was no ref. Benoit told Eugene to get the ref, but Eugene refused to do so. HHH was tapping of course. The ref stayed down forever, to the point to where it was stupid. Benoit decked Eugene as he tried to get into the ring. Crowd booed that. HHH used a low blow and pedigree, and Eugene then got the ref. Benoit kicked out. HHH told Eugene to get a chair. Eugene gave HHH a chair, but then stopped him from using it. HHH shoved Eugene off the apron to the floor. Eugene then got the chair and teased he was going to hit Benoit. He then stopped and teased he was going to hit HHH. He stopped again. Benoit and Eugene then struggled over the chair, until Benoit let go and Eugene pulled the chair away and accidentally hit HHH with it. Eugene started crying about screwing up and Benoit scored the pin with a schoolboy. ***3/4


Spoiler for 7/17/06 notes:
Buy rate news:

The first estimates for the Judgment Day PPV are at 238,000, which is up on the previous ‘B’ shows this year by some margin. It’s up 11% on Backlash.

Domestically, JD did between 140,000 and 145,000.

Dave says the above average trend indicates either Mysterio as underdog champion actually work, despite his near burial, or that Great Khali drew money first time out.

Says the number is by no means a success, but by 2006 standards they shouldn’t be doing this well on the first estimate.

Last year’s JD did 233,000 on first estimate, though this year they waited longer to get that estimate, which usually means it will be higher.

Last year’s JD did 260,000 on the final number, with 170,000 domestic buys, but PPV last year was going much better business.

The raise in price starting with the June One Night Stand PPV will more than make up any monetary differences.

Notes on Raw:

Said Cena vs. Benjamin would have had more meaning if it had been billed as the winner faces Edge for the title rather than Cena has to win to get the title shot, and Benjamin would have been elevated just by being there.

Dave called Melina vs. Stratus the women’s match of the year. Dave also said Melina came off as such a superstar in the match. Dave also said Melina had more presence than Trish, which was a surprise, that she carried herself as a superstar, and that even the top men would be pressed to do a match this good in that short a time (The match went 3:56)

Called Foley’s promo one of the greatest in the history of wrestling and that it was easily the best promo of the year. Said the only negative was that he was a total face in the promo and he’s meant to be the heel. The promo itself was actually taped last week, and several who saw it said it was too inside and made Flair the heel, but Vince was so busy with his stuff that he let it go.

Said the people who put together the Haas-Viscera-Garcia skit must still be traumatized over a pretty girl they had a crush on in high school who didn’t like them back, and this was them getting the revenge they never got back then.

Dave called the Diva Search segment one of the worst ever., and The Miz was “pathetic”, as host.

Other news:

Jonny Fairplay was talking about an idea to manage The Miz, and Steve Lombardi told him it would be a bad idea because “The Miz has to be a babyface.”

Jimmy Hart, Ron Simmons, Maria and Ashley visited military bases in Kuwait. Hart wanted to go because his son was over there for a long time and he wanted to experience the situation as well. Ashley was sick. Hart noted that they found locals and servicemen with bootleg WWE DVD’s, and Hart even picked up a DVD of “See No Evil” for $3.50.

Danny Basham will be part of ECW teaming with Doug Basham, but their role is strictly to put over The FBI at house shows.

The results of Matt Cappotelli’s latest MRI show that his brain tumor has neither increased or decreased in size. Right now, he’s avoiding surgery.

While Van Dam is scheduled to headline an ECW house show in his hometown of Battle Creek, MI on 11/6, it’s not etched in stone because it’s a Monday and they might pull him from the show if he’s wanted on Raw.

Daniel Rodimar was signed to developmental deal this week. What he has going for him, apart from being tall and big, is that he looks like a 60s bodybuilding icon called Dave Draper, and that’s someone who Vince grew up on. Someone who saw him recently said, however, that he likes every other generic guy, because of the short haircut and his tattoos. He was told by John Laurinitis that was on the “fast track” to the main roster. Rodimar has done exactly zero pro wrestling matches.

Jimmy Hart and Gene Okerlund will be hosting the Hulk Hogan DVD that comes out this year. It will be 9 hours in total, and will include a Hogan vs. Lawler match from Memphis.

Stephen DeAngelis being replaced as ECW ring announcer was down to a couple of factors. Vince felt he shouted too much and told him that. He also got labeled an “ECW Original”, which is a big knock internally. Kevin Dunn heard about the criticism and suggested to Vince that he get removed because he had an “annoying” voice. It was also claimed he was too inquisitive for a ring announcer.

Atlas Security were gotten rid of because Kevin Dunn said they kept getting in the way of the camera shots.

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Default Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Spoiler for 7/14/03, PPV buyrate analysis:
World Wrestling Entertainment's decision to publicly release updated
PPV buy information has led to a few interesting findings.
While most figures are in the ballpark of what had been reported, and
keep in mind all shows within the past year will have numbers
constantly change, there were two shows of note over the past two plus
years, one big and one small.
It should be noted that all buys are approximate because of both the
nature of PPV accounting, and also because the WWE released the
information in a graph.

The big one was the July 22, 2001, Invasion PPV from Cleveland,
headlined by a supposed WWF team of Kurt Angle & Steve Austin & Chris
Jericho & Undertaker & Kane against a supposed combined WCW and ECW
team of Diamond Dallas Page & Rhyno & Dudleys & Booker T which did
about 760,000 buys (the last number we had received on the show was
726,400), making it the fifth most buys for a pro wrestling PPV in
history, trailing only the Wrestlemania shows from 1999-2002.
Considering most felt that angle had already been botched by that tine
the potential of that event and of that feud and the money left on the
table is mind-boggling. But that is ancient history and hardly a
revelation.

The other is the May 18, 2003, Judgment Day from Charlotte, which did
only 230,000 buys (the last estimate we'd heard was 300,000) according
to the
latest figures, and keep in mind these numbers will constantly change
as more
reports come in. The show headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show in a
stretcher
match, HHH vs. Kevin Nash and Mr. America vs. Roddy Piper (as
mentioned last
week that was screwed up by Piper's contract negotiations and the
match was
never announced until three days before the show) did a scant 0.44 buy
rate,
making it the lowest WWE PPV event since the December 8, 1997
D-Generation X PPV from Springfield, IL, which did the same 0.44 buy
rate with Shawn
Michaels vs. Ken Shamrock as the main event (this was the PPV the
month after
the famed 1997 Survivor Series, which also shows the idea that
business picked up immediately after that show to be a fallacy,
although house show business had been on the upswing for two years and
PPV started turning around due to Mike Tyson and Steve Austin, and
later Vince McMahon, over the next few months).

In our updated list of wrestles historically who have drawn more than
three 1.0 buy rates in the North American market the standings are now
as
followed, updated with the most recent WWE shows.

1.HuIk Hogan 23; 2. Steve Austin 20; 3. Rock 18; 4. Ric Flair 17; 5.
HHH 10; 6. Bret Hart 9; 7. Undertaker 7; Sting 7; 9. Lex Luger 6; Kurt
Angle 6; 10.
Mick Foley 5; Randy Savage 5; Vince McMahon 5; 13. Chris Jericho 4;
14.
Andre the Giant 3; Roddy Piper 3; Ultimate Warrior 3; Sgt. Slaughter
3; Sid
Vicious 3; Yokozuna 3; Shawn Michaels 3; Kane 3

In looking at the PPV shows since January of 2002, here is what we
find:

2000: Royal Rumble 490,000 buys. This was way down from original
projections
for the show of 636,100 buys for the show built around the return of
HHH, who
won the Rumble, plus Chris Jericho defending WWF title against Rock
and
McMahon vs. Ric Flair in a street fight. The Rumble itself is
traditionally a much larger than usual PPV draw, It should be noted
that the PPV universe for this show was down about 20% from usual as
it was the final show during the WWE'S Dispute with DirecTV, so the
actual buy rate for this show was l.23 percent, which would be the
second highest of the past 18 month period, behind only the
Wrestlemania with Hogan vs. Rock. Still, this show best exemplifies
the nature of PPV reporting, as the previous number was from a report
five months after the show but turned out to be more than 30% higher
when all the tallying was done.

2000 No way Out: 530,000 buys. This was a huge success, largely based
on the
return to the WWF of Hulk Hogan (as well as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
as the
NWO) for the first time since l993. While Jericho vs. Austin for the
WWF title
was the main event and there was an Angle vs. HHH match it was really
Hogan,
and perhaps Nash and Hall since it was their debut as well as the NWO
name
which drew the much larger than usual number of buys.

2002 Wrestlemania: 840,000 buys. This was the second biggest PPV in
company
history, behind only the 2001 Mania. Wbile Jericho vs. HHH went on
last in the
title match, it was Hogan vs. Rock that the show was built around. It
should also be noted that the company did more mainstream advertising
for this show than any show in its history, and all of that
advertising was based around Hogan vs. Rock.

2002 Backlash: 345,000 buys. This was the show where Hogan won the WWF
title from HHH. In hindsight, Hogan was supposed to be riding a crest
of
popularity but this show actually did well below the company's average
for the year, even though it was Hogan challenging for the title.
This figure ended up far lower than the original projections of
400,000. ne other big match was Austin vs. Big Show.

2002 Judgment Day: 370,000 buys. This was the show where Undertaker
won the title from Hogan with Austin vs. Show & Flair and the Edge vs.
Angle hair vs.
hair match.

2002 Klng of tie Ring: 320,000 buys. This was headlined by Undertaker
vs. HHH, Kurt Angle vs. Hulk Hogan (Hogan doing his only babyface
submission job of the past 20 years) and what may be the final King of
the Ring tournament, which
was a sputtering step forward for Brock Lesnar as he did not get out
of the blocks good. Wonder why WWE dropped the King of the Ring? I
guess the tournament
took the blame for the buy rate, since it couldn't have been the main
event's fault.

2002 Vengeance: 375,000 buys. This was the show where Rock got the
WWE title, to set up Lesnar winning it the right way the next month.
It was in a three-way
with champ Undertaker, and designated jobber Kurt Angle. Angle was
added so
Undertaker wouldn't have to do the job when dropping the title (since
the plans
were for Undertaker to be Lesnar's first opponent after he won the
title the next month). Angle was also the key in it being a far better
match that it looked on paper (in truth all three main eventers worked
an awesome match) But this buy rate was disappointing as it was
Rock's first match after Mania and did not do special numbers. Part of
it was it had the weakest support of almost any show with Lance Storm
& Christian winning the tag titles from Hogan & Edge as the second
biggest match on the show.

2002 Summerslam: 520,000 buys. This was largely regarded as a huge
success,
as it was the last sports build-up they've done for a match, and it
was the last show that didn't have something "special" that popped the
elusive l.0 buy rate, for Lesnar's title win over Rock. The show saw
both men hyped by doing training vignettes like they were training for
a major sporting event, and Rock put over Lesnar, the last undisputed
champion, clean, the right way. He also got booed, surprisingly hard
at the Nassau Coliseum against Lesnar whom the company was grooming as
a monster heel. Lesnar was turned inadvertent face by some segments
on Confidential showing him as a home town hero in his small town and
a tremendously hard working and likeable guy. It's amazing that the
lessons of this, which I'd call the company's real last huge success
on PPV were never learned by the company since that time. The
promotion of Angle and Lesnar should have been similar, and should be
now, as should have Goldberg vs. Rock, but in both cases they went the
comedy route, and had no success with it. Lesnar's turn didn't take
long, even though it was probably too soon to do it. The other big
selling item on the show was the return of Shawn Michaels for a match
with long-time best friend and running mate HHH.

2002 Unforgiven: 295,000 buys. This was where a huge mistake was made.
Lesnar was getting over strong as the real champion, and the right
after SummerSlam, HHH was slated to win the IC title but decided he
was too good for it, and the Raw world title was created. So instead
of one undisputed champion now we had two. As this buy rate showed,
that isn't really what happened. Instead, we had no world champion,
and two IC champions who couldn't draw money. HHH vs. Rob Van Dam, at
the time Raw's strongest match, was joined by Lesnar vs. Undertaker as
the two headline matches. Another match pushed strong was the
first interpromotional match, arranged on a dual show angle, where
Rosey & Jamal faced Billy & Chuck with Stephanie having to perform hot
lesbian action if her team lost, which they did. So much of the late
buys were based on selling that item, and as the buy rate showed, this
did lower than what the previous bottoming out level was, so it likely
turned off more fans than it turned on.

2002 No Mercy: 300,000 buys. Lesnar and Undertaker had a non-finish to
build
for a rematch, since having one champion for each group and no upward
mobility
led to very few viable PPV contenders, so they had to stretch things
out. To save what would have been a dead buy rate, since second
meetings usually decline from the first, they made it a Hell in a Cell
match, and they had a great match to highlight an excellent show,
which also included the 2002 Match of the Year with Angle & Chris
Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio. Also pushed hard was the end of the
IC title, as champ Kane faced HHH in a title vs. title match, of
course, won by HHH, during the horrible Katie Vick necrophilia period.
There weere some good nostalgia videos regarding the dropping of teh
title, which was brought several months later, but nostalgia didn't
seem to mean a thing as far as selling orders.

2002 Survivor Series: 350,000 buys. This was the show Hogan backed out
of
returning for, because he was supposed to do the job for Lesnar, and
wanted his
win back. At this point the thought was nobody should br beating
Lesnar. Then,
when Hogan backed out, they switched Show, languishing on Raw as just
about the
least over guy on the roster (the leading ratings turn-off on that
side), and turned him into a monster for a match with Lesnar,
officially going face with Lesnar. Not only that, Show won the title
when Paul Heyman turned on Lesnar and went with Show. However, what
turned out to be the most pushed match was an Elimination chamber cage
match, which cost something like $500,000 to build, with Michaels
getting Raw title over HHH, after Van Dam, Kane, Jericho and Booker T
were eliminated.

2002 Armageddon: 340,000 buys. This was also a two-match show, built
around
Angle winning the Smackdown title as a face from Show, only to turn
heel the next week on television, as a way to build to Angle vs.
Lesnar for a first meeting at Mania. The Raw side saw a best-of-three
matches with a street fight, ladder match and cage match where HHH
regained the title from Michaels, which was pushed as the main event.
All things considered, this show did better than I would have figured.

2003 Royal Rumble: 515,000 buys. The Rumble, setting up the Mania
title match, saw Lesnar predictably win to set up Angle vs. Lesnar,
which got screwed up before they got there. Angle retained the title
vs. Benoit in what was probably the best WWE match so far this year.
While people remember that one, the truth is, HHH vs. Scott Steiner,
in his first match, probably sold more buys since the television
build-up was strong and the segments were doing big quarters. But
with them booking a long match, Steiner was exposed an his drawing
power was done after just one match.

2003 No Way Out: 450,000 buys. Although HHH vs. Steiner was the
rematch, since they did a non-ending at Rumble, and Lesnar and Angle
crossed paths in a six-man, this show was a success because of the
return of Hogan, Austin and Rock all on the same night in a double
headliner of Rock beating Hogan when Vince
interfered (setting up the Mania main), and Austin, inhis next to last
match, beating Bischoff.

2003 Wrestlemania: 560,000 buys. The build-up of Angle and Lesnar was
messed up by Angle's neck injury, which at first was believed would
keep him out of the
show. Vince vs. Hogan got most of the build up, and really, Rock vs.
Austin in
what was Austin's unadvertised possible final serious match, were far
bigger than Lesnar regaining the title from Angle and HHH beating
Booker T.

2003 Backlash: 350,000 buys. The was fumbling the ultimate gimmee,
the debut of Bill Goldberg, against Rock. There was nothing else on
the show for big-time support, as HHH's belt wasn't at stake in a
six-man, and Lesnar faced John Cena. It was also the return of Kevin
Nash in that same six-man.

2003 Judgment Day (covered above)


2003 Bad Blood: 300,000 buys.


I'm going to average out their main events. I'm not going to include
Royal Rumble or Mania. I'm figuring 300,000 buys as base, and figure
how many buys each guy added from that figure.

Wrestler Extra $ total Extra per main

Kurt Angle $ 322,000 $ 322,000
Steve Austin $1,127,140 $ 563,570
Mick Foley $1,051,995 $1,051.995
Bill Goldberg $ 375,713 $ 375,713
HHH -$ 268,481 -$ 44,747
Hulk Hogan $3,037,359 $ 759,340
Chris Jericho $ 397,105 $ 198,553
Brock Lesnar $1,623,078 $ 541,026
Shawn Michaels $ 375,713 $ 187,856
Kevin Nash -$1,051,995 -$ 525,998
Rock $3,102,235 $ 775,559
Big Show $ 375,713 $ 187,856
Undertaker $ 875,738 $ 175,148

Basically how this relates to drawing on PPV is this. Mick Foley's
numbers are great because he saved one show.

Hogan and Rock are the biggest PPV draws, and remember, I didn't even
include the Mania 2002 match, which would have only made them look
even more superior. Austin and Lesnar come next. Lesnar really only
drew well once, which was his match with Rock. Kurt Angle looks
strong, but he really only had one main event.


Spoiler for 2/20/06:
Top story was about Bret Hart agreeing to be in the Hall of Fame.
Meltzer said Bret has mainly been talking to Kevin Dunn about the deal.
Bret feels this will be his way of saying a final farewell in public to
WWE and all his fans. He DOES NOT want to be at WM 22 the next day. He
is writing a book that he wants to get done quickly and he is said to
only be up to his life from 1999. After the Hall of Fame show, he wants
to leave and either go back to Itlay or home to Calgary. Meltzer assumes
they will pressure him to come to WM 22 and if he gets there they will
try to push him to get involved with whatever is planned for HBK/Vince
McMahon.
Bret has been talking to people from TNA like Scott D'Amore, Borash, and
Double J. All along Jarrett said in his gut he wouldn't do anything with
them despite the others in creative and management hoping he would.
Meltzer said when Jarrett got word that the announcement from Raw was
made at the taping about him in for the Hall, he told people "I told you
so". Meltzer said WWE may try and make Hart sign a legends contract but
Bret is name enough where he could refuse. But if he signs it, it would
no doubt stop him from appearing on TNA TV. He said at the moment a
second Bret DVD is planned as well as a photo type coffee table book.

The issue talked a lot about the heat Vince and WWE is getting in the
locker room and even in creative for the Eddie angle. Meltzer shared
letters from people that wrote in to Dan Whaler's who contributes to the
Observer website. One was from a memeber of the creative team that
obviously wanted their name withheld. He said that Orton's comments
about being in hell was pulled from the script but Steph McMahon wanted
it put back in and it was approved by Vince. The person said they all
felt sick about it and they knew how bad it was going to go over
especially in the locker room. This person said that there is no arguing
with Vince because his excuse with something like this is always "Look
at the big picture." Vince and Steph think this stuff will be a great
way to get heel heat on Randy Orton. This person ended with strong words
saying " A lot of guys are simply fed up with the McMahon way, and Vince
is going to get that message when it comes to contract renewal time."

Andrew "Test" Martin wrote in and said WWE keeps getting lower not only
with the crowds and payoffs, but in taste. He said he was concerned on
how Eddie's kids would be treated by friends and "cruel" kids at school
who hear all this stuff on TV. He also felt bad for Eddie's wife having
to hear it as she stood by him.

In more "Vince is Evil" news, in the TNA segment there were interview
notes from Jackie Gayda. She feels that she was fired for refusing to
pose for Playboy. She said Stacy and her were offered to pose a few
years ago and they both turned it down. That issue ended up being turned
into Torrie Wilson and Sable together. Then in typical WWE revenge
booking fashion, there was an angle where Stacy and Jackie had a feud
with Torrie and Sable saying they were jealous of them that they got to
pose instead.

In TNA news, 186 people voted TNA Against All Odds a "Thumbs Up". There
were 0 "thumbs down", and one in the middle. Meltzer gave Christian/JJ
***1/4, Joe/Daniels/AJ ****1/4, and Team 3D vs. Team Canada ***1/4 (In
my opinion way too generous on all accounts)

Tommy Dreamer told CM Punk that he could work ROH's date last Sat. with
the conditions of he couldn't be advertised, he couldn't job, he
couldn't wrestle or be involved with anyone from TNA, and it could only
be a one time thing. From there Dreamer left to do an indie date in
England. He didn't tell anyone else in WWE that he gave Punk permission
including Johnny Ace.

Meltzer said the situation "exploded" at Raw on Monday. Vince and Steph
went up to Ace and gave him a bunch of heat asking him why he let a
member of WWE appear on a show with "so many TNA stars". Even though a
lot of the wrestlers by this time knew that Punk did the ROH show (as
well as it being on the net), Meltzer said Ace was "blindsided" by the
McMahon's appoarch. All the heat then went to Punk and he told them
Dreamer approved of it, so then Dreamer got the final heat. Meltzer said
from day one guys like HHH, HBK, Hayes, and even Arn Anderson have been
all over Punk about his work rate. Anderson goes along with HHH and says
that Punk "copies" a lot of popular moves from Japan. Meltzer also added
that Punk's relationship with Maria "doesn't help matters". He didn't go
into detail and I'm really curious as to what he meant.

Possible big news in TNA is that Goldberg seems really interested in
maybe doing a few dates down the line. He said he wants to prove himself
before retiring from wrestling because his WM match with Brock isn't how
he wants to end it. Also Meltzer says he is interested in helping TNA
grow a bit because he hates Vince McMahon so much that he won't even say
his name. (That's pretty bad and adds to everything else about McMahon
in this issue.)

No one really knows what WWE's meeting with Simon Inoki was about but it
probably had a lot to do with Brock's situation. Meltzer said at one
point WWE was even thinking about going as far as suing New Japan to
stop Brock around the world. However that has cooled and they would have
a hardtime doing it since NJPW is Tokyo based. They put Simon's picture
up on WWE.com in order to mess with TNA since they had a working
agreement with NJPW. So it's clear with this and the ROH show that WWE
is growing concerned about TNA.

There won't be Taboo Tuesday this year because of low buy rate but the
same style of event will be on Sunday Nov. 5 and they are calling it
"Cyber Sunday". (I can just see the WWE ads for that one with that kind
of title. A tease of a guy getting turned on in front of his computer
and it cuts to him watching matches or something)

Meltzer reported that at Eddie's funeral, everyone was kissing Vince's
ass. He is still so powerful that everyone is fearful of him and they
try to suck up at all times."Superstar" Billy Graham spoke and told
Eddie's wife (about Vince) "this man is a marketing genius".He brought
up royalities from his book and DVD to try and comfort her that she'd be
taken care of with any Eddie deals. Hector Guerrero was in tears and
told Vince "My family is so sorry for any bad publicity this may have
brought to your family." When Mando was asked about the angle by people
he said "That's just how the business operates. I have no problem with
it at all."

A Hogan note. He still can't believe how HBK bashed him the night after
SummerSlam. He said they were supposed to have a rematch either the
night after SummerSlam or at the Rumble but that was dropped. Hogan
couldn't believe that they were almost willing to give the rematch away
for free the next night. Right now he is focusing on his TV show and
he's still hoping for a record deal for Brooke.

I think some of this was posted up here days ago, but Christian has the
ball and TNA is going to give him every chance with it and they will do
what they can for him. There is no set date as to when he will drop it
so no mention at this point as to who he would drop it too. Meltzer said
based on that, he could have a two month run, or it could be a year.

Christian was tired of the road in WWE and by going to TNA he felt it
would give him a chance to rest his body up. It seems to be a trend
these days, but he is another from the pro wrestling world that hopes to
make it in acting. He also saw there was nothing more WWE was going to
do with him as far as titles so part of the deal sealer with TNA was
that he would get the belt and be in main events. Meltzer notes the
trouble is they kept bringing attention to him being a mid-carder in
WWE. Now he's NWA World Champ which makes him and the company look
second rate to those that will remember seeing him getting squashed over
and over by WWE's then World Champ Batista.

Sting is expected to return at the TNA March ppv in some sort of a run
in/save.


Spoiler for 6/16/03, Big Dave breaks down why Goldberg is failing:
We are les than three months into the Goldberg in WWE experiment and
it's doubtful many would argue that it's been anything but a complete
failure.

The scary part of this failure is that now, all excuses go out the
window. The WWE creative side is worse than the WCW creative side.
WCW never once had an opportunity even close to this since the first
Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper match, and even that in 1996, had no
business being as big a deal as Goldberg's first matches against
several different opponents.

WWE, in literally one week, took the most talked about non-WWE
wrestler, and stripped him of his aura, reputationa dna drawing power.
The man who should have had his salary for the year covered by the
increase in buy rate in his first match alone, will never have his
salary covered, no matter what they do, for the next year.

And this week, nerves on both sides began fraying, leading to a
dressing room situation before Raw went on the air on 6/9 involving
Goldberg, Vince McMahon and Chris Jericho.

This problem started when Goldberg put on the wig.

Sketchy details are available of everything that went down over the
past week. It is known that Vince McMahon, at an agents meeting last
week, was very negative on Goldberg. This apparently came right after
problems surfaced regarding Goldberg and the Insurrextion PPV.
Goldberg had not been booked on the show. At some point early in the
last week, decisions were changed and they decided to do Goldberg &
Kevin Nash vs. HHH & Chris Jericho as the main event. Goldberg was
asked to do the match, and apparentlyagreed, but noted that he was
injured butwas willing to go through it. Whomever spoke with him then
told him not to bother, and the card was changed and Scott Steiner
(who no doubt is hurt worse than Goldberg) was put in his place.
Decisions were changed again, and he was then asked again to go to
Englasn. This time he was more negative about it, since he'd been
first told he was being replaced. He ended up not going, which was
part of the reason the card was changed five times in the last week
(although Goldberg had nothing to do with the last three changes).

Whether this was booking done out of spite, or out of stupidity, the
script for Raw on 6/9 was going to bury Goldberg before his match with
Jericho. In the post-match, Jericho was supposed to do something that
would injure Goldberg's legitimately hurt right hand. The idea was
that they would then go backstage and Goldberg would see a doctor, who
would tell him to go to the hospital rather than stay for revenge on
Jericho. In totally burying the babyface psychology, Goldberg would
then leave and go to the hospital. The plan was for him to return and
do the interview with Terri, as opposed to go after Jericho, and get
laid out one more time by Jericho.

When Goldberg showed up and got the script, he refused. All parties
involved had to work out a compromise, where Goldberg wouldn't look as
bad.

While this is not confirmed, it is believed by those within the
company that Goldberg signed a one-year deal at $1.5 million, for a
maximum six dates per month. If that number is correct, then the
England show would have been more than his allotted dates, as Goldberg
was actually booked for seven shows in June even before England--five
Raws, Bad Blood and the 6/14 house show in Tulsa.

The commotion backstage for all this was said to be significant enough
that everyone knew about it. There was also a second issue, as
Jericho talked with Goldberg about their Bad Blood match. Apparently
there is no issue over the finish itself, since the plan is still for
Goldberg to go over clean and set up a SummerSlam title challenge to
HHH. The original plan, where Goldberg would get the title, is
probably far less of a lock than it was two weeks ago. Apparently in
exchange for putting Goldberg over, Jericho wanted to kick out of the
spear, noting that Rock did, before falling victim to a second spear,
followed by a jackhammer. Goldberg refused, saying to Jericho
something along the lines of, you're not the Rock.

While nobody will say it publicly, it does appear the company has
given up on Goldberg, and probably wishes it could get out of the
deal. While Goldberg himself has done nothing out of the ordinary,
and at times has shown less fire than he has needed, almost all the
blame on this one has got to go with creative. Goldberg is the single
easiest character to book, because there is a proven method that works
for him. In trying to prove their creativity by not copying what
worked, the creative side of the company proved once again that it's
not about showing you can come up with ideas never done before, but
it's about coming up with scenarios that get people interested in the
characters and wanting to see the big matches. Not only has the
company not come up with scenarios of late that has made new stars,
but it can't even avoid fumbling the ball when handed to them in an
open field, and the only defenders went home two years earlier.


Spoiler for 6/23/03, financial news:
The WWE had its worst year, financially, in its history.
Due to the financial bath from closing the restaurant The World at
Times Square, the company lost $19,195,000 in the fiscal year ending
on 4/30. It was the first money losing year since the 1996-97 fiscal
year, when the company lost $6,505,000, in what was its previous worst
financial year in its history (which actually in some ways was the
catalyst for the Survivor Series 1997 finish because if the company
wasn't losing heavily , Vince McMahon wuldn't have wanted to cut back
Hart's contract, which led to him leaving and what resulted). This is
believed to be the worst financial year for a pro wrestling company
in history with the exception of the 2000 version of World
Championship Wrestling, which lost about $62 million.

Vince McMahon owns 43,582,596 of the company's 70,416,815 shares
(61.9%) and controls another 10,631,941 (15.1%) which is in a trust
fund for Shane & Stephanie McMahon, of which Vince retains all the
voting power over as long as he's alive. The company last week
announced a four cents per share quarterly divadend. The McMahon
family would earn another $2,220,581 per quarter in divadends coming
off a losing quarter. As things stand, the family will eb taking in
roughly $8.88 million per year in stock divadends starting with this
coming year.

The company's most successful year asa business was the 1999-2000
fiscal year with $68,934,000 in profits on total revenue of
$379,310,000. However, in 2000-2001, the company actually peaked in
popularity and revenue, with a wrestling profit margin of $84,981,000
on revenues of $456 million. However, losses from the XFL cut the
profit margin down to $15,987,000 that year.

It was a similar situation this year, as the company grossed
$374,264,000. It should be noted that the total gross was down, even
though they ran far more live events, increased the price of PPV
events from $29.95 to $34.95, and had a huge increase in overseas
revenue, both from television and live events, so the domestic drop
and popularity drop is much greater than is indicated. The wrestling
business itself produced a $16,362,000 profit, but that couldn't
offset a $35,557,000 loss from shutting down the restaurant. All
costs involved with the restaurant are gone from the company books
from this point forward with the exception of about $2.5 million in
rent through the year 2017.

The most important figure going forward is that the company has
$441,733,000 in cash and liabilities of $90,648,000, meaning it's $351
million on the positive side. The real figure right now is probably
closer to $321 million because of the Viacom stock purchase that came
after the books for the year closed. While that money could be gone
quickly with a few more XFL-like debacles, the company has seemed to
accept its relagation into being primarily a pro wrestling
entertainment business with teh closing of its restaurant and shutting
down of its record label that never got off the ground.

It would take years of unchecked, horrible business for the company to
be on any kind of bad financial footing. As mentioned many times
before, the only real danger as it regards the future would be a loss
of television exposure, since TV drives the industry, and that is
nothing that would be a concern today since it is the highest rated
show on both stations it airs on. Of course, so was WCW, and we saw
how quick that can change.

The company is funding a WWE films division in Hollywood as its only
major non-wrestling company, but treading slowly there. Linda McMahon
only talked about two projects coming from that division, an animated
series designed to attract a younger audience to wrestling (which
contradicts the long talked about line about the company doing no
marketing to children) and a straight-to-video low-budget movie
vehicle for Steve Austin that will be starting in a few months.
McMahon said that Rock would not be part of the company's film
division, but that the company is receiving approximately $2 million
from every film he does as its Executive Producers royalty since he's
under contract to them.

At this point, WWE Raw and weekend programming is under contract to
TNN through September 2006. Smackdown is under contract to UPN
through September 2004. At this point, all of the company's wrestling
profitability is due to the $28 million per year TNN pays the company
as a rights fee for Raw, and that was a deal signed when TNN was
expecting a 6.0 rating every Monday night from the show.

The combined total of the three PPVs was 1,381,000 buys which would be
about 475,000 for No Way Out (0.91 buy rate for Hogan vs. Rock),
585,000 for Wrestlemania (1.13 buy rate for Hogan vs. McMahon) and
320,000 for Backlash (0.62 buy rate for Rock vs. Goldberg), all
figures slightly higher than initial projections. All three were
significantly down from the same shows a year earlier, and all three
had to be considered disappointing.

Linda McMahon said that they hoped to get Tough Enough back on the air
in 2004, noting that a higher percentage of women watch the show than
watch the other company programs. The goal for 2003-04 is to run 13
or 14 PPVs if things go well, although at present they only have 12
scheduled. She also said they are attempting to convert more of the
U.S. PPV events to PPV events (as opposed to live free television
specials) in other parts of the world, in particular the U.K. She
also mentioned attempts to purchase several different wrestling
videotape libraries, but said that at present the only deal that has
been completed has been the WCW deal.

Also interesting was that when the question came up of why the company
is public in the first place, McMahon acknowledged that "We've
considered it long and hard." This was the first acknowledgment
publicaly of rumors they were thinking of going back private, as
previously that question brought up total denials. The company has
more than enough in cash assets to buy back the approximately 14.1
million shares of company stock not owned by the McMahon family that
would have a street value of around $133,245,000, based on prices at
the close of the market on 6/13.

Last year at this time the company predicted it would gross $455
million in the just completed year, averaged 7,670 paid attendance per
event and $276,100, numbers that in recent months they've barely done
half of. The company also predicted it would average 600,000 buys per
PPV event, a figure that only one show all year (Mania) approached.

The projections for this year are far more modest, estimating $325
million to $350 million in total revenue, which would be a $22 million
to $25 million annual profit. They predict an average of 5,000 to
5,600 paid attendance per show, which in the range of where they are,
4.3 and 4.8 million in PPV buys (an average of 358,000 to 400,000
buys, which does appear also to be more than they are going to do with
eight split brand shows), that Raw would average a 3.5 to 4.0 (it's
currently in that range) and Smackdown would average a 3.3 to 3.8
(it's currently averaging below that number).

McMahon changed the company's goal, as in recent conferences it has
always been to increase television ratings and everything will follow.
She noticed that business has stabilized. The huge almost free-fall
of house shows, and similar ratings declines as WCWduring its fall
have now stabilized as noted by the monthly charts. She emphasized
the company's placing getting fans back to attending house shows as a
primary goal.

They also announced plans to increase the number of international
dates from 19 to 31, with a tour of Japan and Thailand in mid-July,
the late July/early August tour of Australia, an October tour of
Europe, a December tour of Japan, and a February or March tour of
Asia.

Fro the year, live attendance was down 33.6% per show and live gates
were down 29.4% per event.

They are listing a 38% drop in PPV orders, but with higher prices, the
revenue drop was 18.8% from $112 million to $91.1 million.

Television ad revenue dropped 12.8%, based on lower ad rates due to
drops in ratings, but their drop in ad revenue was less than the drop
in ratings. Raw was down 19.6%. Smackdown was down 15%.

McMahon said that the company right now is paying to 35% to 40% of
capacity at house shows.

Mania did its weakest numbers since 1997, when the company was at its
greatest poopularity depth since going national.

WWE HISTORY AS A BUSINESS

YEAR TOTAL REVENUE PROFIT/LOSS
1994-95 $ 87,352,000 $ -4,431,000
1995-96 $ 85,815,000 $ 3,199,000
1996-97 $ 81,863,000 $ -6,505,000
1997-98 $126,231,000 $ 8,466,000
1998-99 $251,474,000 $ 56,030,000
1999-00 $373,100,000 $ 68,937,000
2000-01 $456,043,000 $ 15,987,000 *
2001-02 $409,622,000 $ 42,233,000 **
2002-03 $374,264,000 $-19,195,000 ***

* Wrestling profit was $84,981,000 but WWE's share of half the XFL
losses (the other half were covered by NBC) was $68,994,000.

** Wrestling profit was $42,498,000; also figured in were a tax break
of $4,638,000 for shutting down the XFL, offset by $4,903,000 in
losses for the year on The World

*** Wrestling profit of $16,362,000 was offset by losses of
$35,557,000 through operation and closing of The World.


Spoiler for 6/2/03:
There are probably only two sure things. In a few years, there will
be a WWE and EMLL. As of three months ago, WWE had total assets of
$436 million, of which $270 million was cash, cash equivalents and
short-term investments, and another $52.1 million was in receivables.
It also needs to be noted that with Vince McMahon owning roughly 80%
of company stock, they could put a lot of stock on the market, raise
tons more cash, and still maintain company control. All the cash on
hand will not do anything to prevent a downtrend, and eventual losses,
caused by fan apathy. It also does nothing to guarantee there will be
an answer to eventually turn things around. It does guarantee one
thing. Time. While WCW burned through cash quickly, and WWE itself
lost boatloads even faster with teh XFL, the truth is WWE is a far
better run organization when it comes to bottom line business than so
many of the companies, both in and out of wrestling, that we've seen
collapse in recent years.
Despite McMahon himself being a risk taker, and many haven't paid off
of late, and all the creative problems that continue, when you look at
the wrestling end itself, the company was still profitable last
quarter even with a collapse in the hosue show business and
significant declines in ratings. Even in decline, wrestling itself
has been breaking even, as the quarterly losses have been due to a
large lawsuit settlement with teh William Morris Agency and the
recently given up on restaurant and entertainment complex at Times
Square.

The disappointing PPV numbers for Wrestlemania are not going to help
the next quarter, but the company also followed by making cuts. WWE
does not have the problems that killed WCW, at least yet. The salary
structure is more under control, as teh ridiculous number of huge
dollar long-term guaranteed deals aren't there, and there are no
Stevie Rays, Scott Nortons, and Rick Steiners making nearly seven
figures or anyone handing over money like candy. WWE style contracts,
particularly with so many having their guarantees negotiated downward,
since there is virtually no leverage for talent, serve the company
well at times like this. The company has enough cash to absorb years
of huge losses, provided the avoid projects like the XFL and WWF New
York, and it doesn't appear that is the new mind set.

WCW's big problems stemmed from the total collapse of PPV. The
average buy rate in 1998 was 0.93. In 1999 it was 0.55. In 2000, the
year of the $62 million in losses, it was 0.17. The Backlash and,
presumably, Judgment Day buy rates, are at the 1999 WCW level.

It's hard to believe at this point that either Spike TV or UPN would
drop wrestling anytime soon. It's more likely that the former will
change its image several more times after failures, and one of the
image changers may come in during 2006 if wrestling at the time is
bottoming out. That's ultimately what killed WCW. UPN itself may not
survive the next few years. Granted, nearly every network would have
loved to have gotten the WWF franchise in 2001, when the USA contract
expired. But you could have said the same thing about WCW, which
still did ratings way above what almost every cable network was
averaging at the time of its death, and tehre were no takers.
Ultimately, if WWE finds its way and creates new stars, it's probably
very safe, and history does show that the next upswing will probably
be more lucrative than the last. If not, this will be a long and
painful process.

The other almost sure survivor is EMLL, which has now been around
almsot 70 years. The company owns its arenas and has strong network
television, although the latter is hardly guaranteed forever and
would, like in the U.S., be the long-term biggest potential stumbling
block. Like WWE, they pay largely based on a percentage of the gate,
which allowed them to survive many economic downturns.

Pieces are being worked on regarding several deceased wrestlers, among
them Brian Pillman, by the Confidential staff, for potential broadcast
on the bigger shows as well. According to those close to the
situation, McMahon earmarked the idea both for ratings and because of
an attempt to get the WWE's version of the stories of the various
deaths about before HBO, which has been working on a similar piece.

Sting was telling people on the [WWA] tour that he had been in
discussions with McMahon again of late, and McMahon had put pressure
on him to make a decision one way or the other by the weekend and he
was leanig against it because he didn't like the deadline pressure.

They teased a Russo face return when Gilberti said that there was no
way a 43-year-old man with three kids could have his pulse on what's
happening. I recognize that line was thrown in as a total work, but
it did trigger something I've been hearing from people in wrestling
for the last six years. When booking sucks, it's been how can a
52-year-old man understand young viewers (he's now 57 and they say the
same thing, even though he had his greatest success in the year 2000
when he was 55, so my feeling it's not his age but his lucking into
the right talent at the right time), how can a 25-year-old girl
understand a male-oriented product, how can a 26-year-old who has
never done drugs, never been in a fight, never watched sports and
never been laid understand a product based on sex, sports, fighting
and drugs (actually his problem is none of the above as much as not
being exposed to enough varieties of wrestling to have real product
knowledge), and this was the latest example. Just for the record, and
granted, I can't find a 25-year-old girl example or a successful
promoter or booker that I know has never been laid (although there
would be more than one who rarely if ever was laid by a woman), but
I'd just like everyone who makes says stuff like that and thinks it is
perceptive to go back in history to every successful promoter and
booker of the past 30 years and find out how old they were when they
are doing their best business.

Actually, if Watts were brought in to work with Russo and Jarrett on
writing the shows, you could probably get a lot of people to pay $10 a
week if they just aired the booking meetings.

On the 5/26 Raw, Jim Ross made mention of a get well wish for Fred
Blassie. We don't have a lot of details, but Blassie, 85, at press
time, is not doing well. He underwent undisclosed surgery for what we
believe to have been heart issues and had been in the hospital for
about a week. Word at press time is he was improving.

Austin showed up at Raw all banged up from a weekend auto accident.
He was not wearing a seat belt and needed stitches near his right eye.
His nose was busted up and the right side of his body was all scraped
up. They concentrated on mostly shooting him from the left side so as
not to call attention to it. Austin was telling people that he looked
worse than he actually felt. What you saw on TV was the result of
heavy make-up after the fact. It was acknowledged on TV, because it
couldn't be ignored, with Austin claiming he slipped on a bar of soap
in the shower.

There had been talk of signing Steve Williams but it's not decided one
way or the other. One theory is because he comes from the All Japan
system that he'll be able to work with the younger wrestlers on doing
slower-paced and more mat oriented matches, but doing matches where
the holds mean something and the mat wrestling is worked as a struggle
as opposed to simple resting in between high spots. Overall reports
on Williams from the house shows over the weekend were not that
strong.

For the complete 2002-2003 TV season, which is figured from September
through last week, Smackdown averaged a 3.4 rating. While it was the
highest rated show on UPN, it ranked No. 122 overall in prime time
rankings.

The latest on the Flair autobiography, which hasn't even really been
started, is that WWE and Simon & Schuster have acquired the rights to
the book, buying out St. Maartens Press' rights. Mark Madden was
originally slated to ghost write the book by the original publishers.
He was told by WWE tha they wanted to use their ghost writer who would
work with him on the project. I've heard the name Keith Elliot
Greenberg, coming off the Blassie book, as that person but taht may
not be official. There is no release date yet for the book, but the
plan at this point is going to be to promote it more heavily than any
of the books in years. Part of the reason is because WWE had to spend
considerable money just to get the rights to the book.

When the local [Toronto] sports radio station, [Cena] was asked about
steroids and responded that the wrestlers of today have better workout
programs and with all the advances in supplementation, you don't need
steroids. He also said WWE does drug testing so guys can't get away
with using steroids. Wow, that's a first. I do know that WWE did
drug test developmental about a year ago when Cena was there,
including for steroids (and a lot of the guys got off steroids at the
time), but I haven't heard of a main roster steroid test in seven
years other than the occasional drug testing that is done (such as the
recent situation with Jeff Hardy) when they assume people are far gone
on recreational drugs, or as part of programs for some wrestlers who
have been through rehab on their way back.

HHH is scheduled on Jimmy Kimmel on 6/13.


Spoiler for 4/28/03:
The tentative schedule looks to be for Steve Austin, Lita and Jim Ross
to return on 4/28 or 5/5.
Stephanie and HHH are scheduled for a 10/25 wedding. Looking back
when we write the final history of the business, this will be even
bigger than it sounds today.

Two matches on the board right now for the Judgment Day PPV (5/18 in
Charlotte) are HHH vs. Nash and Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros. I'm
guessing both Flair and Michaels will push for a singles match on that
show against each other.

Bob Holly, who isn't scheduled back after neck surgery from Dr. Lloyd
Youngblood until October, is saying he's wanting to return. He's
scheduled to meet with Youngblood next on 5/21. He said he was
feeling 100% only four months after surgery and his strength is back
to normal.

Kanyon's new gimmick is that he's doing the old Kevin Sullivan, saying
he's just come back from Tibet learning under "The Master" from the
tree of woe, but exaggerating a lisp so it's all comedy.

Some people noted these comments from Jericho on 4/17 in an AP
interview. "I've been wrestling for 13 years now, and I've kind of
accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in wrestling. I still
love it because I love to entertain people, but a couple years down
the line, maybe the band will take a more prominent role, or maybe
I'll do more stuff in Hollywood. It's getting harder and harder to
get out of bed and go into the ring. It's a tough grind for us both
physically and mentally. That's one reason I love playing in Fozzy.
It reminds me of when I first started wrestling. Whenever I would
have a match, it would be such a big deal, or whenever I would have an
article in a newspaper it would be so exciting, or a picture in a
magazine. Now it's like that with Fozzy, whenever I have a song that
gets played on the radio, or there's a newspaper article about the
band, or we play a concert."

Some more notes on Goldberg promotion. Internally there was a lot of
promotional material set to go out on 4/8 pushing the Goldberg vs.
Rock match for Backlash, both internally and through people the
company has dealings with in the cable industry. There were a lot of
unhappy people when creative decided to postpone announcing he match
for one week to make it more dramatic and get heat on Rock, and thus
everything planned was put on hold. It was made worse when on 4/14,
the announcement was so ridiculously undramatic. The company also
attempted to push Goldberg's return as a big thing on the Lenos and
Lettermans of teh world, but whether it's that Goldberg hasn't been a
big media name in a few years, or cooling off of wrestling, they were
turned down by the main names and ended up with Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel
was a dual pro wrestling connection. One of the talent bookers of
that show is Kristin Prouty, who very briefly was a member of the WWE
creative team (I believe lasting less than a month). She was run off
quickly but still has a few friends in the company. The other is Bill
Simmons (the espn.com writer) who was a long-time fan and had written
for wrestling mags in the past and was a long-time subscriber to the
Observer before largely being unable to watch the product any longer
maybe a year ago and losing interest.

When the Goldberg/Goldust segment was discussed at the agents meeting
(I believe before it was aired, but may have been after), the only
criticism said was that Goldust stood too close to Goldberg and made
him look short. Nobody spoke up about the inherent stupidity of the
segment. Brian Gerwitz came up with the segment, along with other
recent projects including the segments outside bell-to-bell with
Goldust, Hurricane and Christian and coming up Rock Concert I & II.
Kevin Dunn said he thought the tape was very good, saying it gave the
Goldberg character more dimension, and saying they've already given
him more dimension that WCW could. Goldberg was on Byte This, and
apparently he was told the same thing, because he used thaht
terminology word-for-word. In WCW, over the course of one year, every
time Goldberg appeared on a segment, and that was even in 1999 and
2000 when the ship had really sunk already, the audience would go up
about 500,000 viewers. When this happens in WWE, and only then, can
they take credit for being better than WCW when it comes to this
character.

Snow recently signed a new deal so there doesn't appear to be any
danger in him losing his job with "Tough Enough" canceled. Snow
himself has talked about opening a wrestling school in Ohio. He had
run Bodyslammers wrestling gym in Lima in his pre-WWF days. I believe
his downside was cut back, but that's probably going to happen to all
guys except the high level guys when their deals come due.

It appears the original plans to bring back Shane as a character are
off, since they set up his return the last week of Mania and on the
show, and have forgotten about that angle ever since.

Sky TV this week in the U.K. edited out a couple of segments. They
edited out Keibler going through Test's bags and finding the Playboy
and also the Bischoff segment where he was hawking the Austin
merchandise Home Shopping Network style.

Tenacious Z has a meeting to determine his introduction on 5/7 in
Stamford.

There was an incident at the 4/12 house show in Montgomery, AL
involving DeMott and Jones. They wrestled that night. They had a
heated argument and Jack Lanza had to separate the two. Some say
there is more heat on DeMott as the veteran, than Jones. DeMott was
frustrated because he felt Jones wasn't paying attention to him in the
match and there is the frustration amoung wrestlers thinking Jones
hasn't shown the desire to improve and practice but seems protected
since he's Vince's pet project.

Goldberg and Rock were scheduled for a few training sessions this weke
in Los Angeles to practice their match. I believe as time went on, it
was down from several to just one.

Hardys book was No. 18 on the New York Times bestsellers list.


Spoiler for 7/7/03:
The unmasking of Kane was the most watched segment of Raw in over a
year.
The latest working idea on Jesse Ventura's MSNBC talk show is called
"The Arena with Jesse Ventura" with a blond MC. Ventura was telling
people it would debut in late summer or the early fall. KMSP-TV in
Minneapolis did a news feature on it saying that they got a report on
the show from someone in the test audience who said critics would hate
the show but people would love it.

Paul Orndorff revealed on the "Get in the Ring" radio show that he had
been battling bipolar disorder for his life, which had caused severe
mood swings.

Former wrestler Ole Anderson, 61, fell off the roof of his house on
6/20 and suffered a broken hip. I believe he had a hip replacement
done.

In NWA TNA, Jeff Jarrett told everyone before the 6/25 show that there
would be no more swearing allowed on TV. At the TV production
meeting, he and Vince Russo had a disagreement about it.

Jeff Jarrett has reached a deal to least the rights to the NWA name
for ten years at a growing rights fee per year. After ten years, he
would then have the option to own the name outright.

The 6/25 show got a 97.5% thumbs up, 0% thumbs down, and 2.5% thumbs
in the middle.

The show drew about 950 fans, with 40% paid and 60% freebies.

It should be noted that the crowd reactions are very misleading.
Jeremy Borash leads cheers and now does a deal where if fans keep the
heat up for a few minutes, he throws t-shirts at them. So you'll have
a background of "TNA, TNA" which does make the matches better on
television, but it has nothing to do with people's reactions to the
matches. Often the chant stops dead for no reason, but the reason is
Borash threw a t-shirt into the crowd. The AC wasn't working and it
was ridiculously hot in the building, so they could have easily had a
dead crowd.

They've finally figured out that Trinity can't wrestle, but can do
spots, so they figure she should interfere in matches as a heel,
rather than do the original Lita-Essa Rios deal which would have
worked perfectly for her with Kazarian or someone who can go but needs
something added to him.

Something will likely be decided before you read this, but there has
certainly been talk of using Roddy Piper.

There will be no shows during two consecutive weeks in September when
the Fairgrounds is being used for the local fair. There were thoughts
of taping elsewhere, but the decision was made to run a couple of
taped shows.

There was no talk at all this week about TNA Talk and Joey Styles.

Joey Styles turned down the gig to do TNA Talk.

The senior management committee in WWE, which consists of Jim Ross
(talent relations), Kevin Dunn (television production), Stephanie
McMahon (creative) and Ed Kauffman (legal affairs) were all promoted
this past week. These appear to be promotions in name only because
the duties of everyone remain the same. Ross, Dunn and Kauffman were
promoted from Vice President to Executive Vice President. Stephanie
was promoted from Director of Creative to Vice President of Creative.
The company sent out a memo to everyone announcing their respective
promotions and describing all of their significant contributions to
the product. As you can imagine, a lot of people thougbt it took a
lot of gall (okay, temerity) to push Stephanie's contributions in an
internal memo.

As a way to alleviate the criticism that all the pushed commodities on
television aren't working house shows, not only Vince, but also Austin
and Bischoff are going to be sent to a lot of house shows. Austin can
still punch people out, deliver a stunner and drink beer every night.
However, the first two nights of Vince at house shows over this
weekend did not draw well.

The Vengeance main event has been changed from an Angle vs. Lesnar
singles match to Angle vs. Show vs. Lesnar for the title. Perhaps
they've realized that the Angle-Lesnar singles match with both as
faces needs a lot longer and more focused build-up or it'll mean
nothing. Plus, on the Smackdown side, it seems like the only passible
Mania-level main event at this point.

From what I gather, the HHH vs. Foley idea was not that seriously
discussed and the plan is still HHH vs. Goldberg as the Summerslam
main event. Of course that can change may times over.

There is still frustration as the company would like Goldberg to work
more house show dates, although his contract calls for very limited
dates. I think there is a feeling that if Goldberg worked a little
longer matches at house shows, where people would be happy just to see
him, he can improve as a wrestler for the PPVs where he would have to
work longer, while doing the blow-out formula on television that works
best in getting him over. The Michaels vs. Orton thing has be talked
about, but is not etched in stone by any means.

I do know that Foley had not as of this past weekend been even talked
with about wrestling HHH at SummerSlam. He was hurting later in the
week from the bump where he rolled down the stairs and added stitches
from the shot with the glass from Orton.

Tbe latest numbers from Backlash (Rock vs. Goldberg) are up to 350,000
buys.
It's still a disappointment based on what they hoped the match would
deliver,
but there were estimates under 300,000 at one point. Judgment Day is
coming
in at arund 300,000 and early estimates on Bad Blood are in the
250,000 to
300,000 range. They are happy with that number beause it doesn't
indicate a
serious drop off for the Raw only PPV, but I think a lot of that is
due to Foley's return.

On the Goldberg front, the new Goldberg character was a lot more
Goldberg's decision than WWE deciding to go back to the old Goldberg
character. Goldberg has creative control of his character, although
he only used it once, which was on the Raw episode the week before Bad
Blood when be got
a few things changed. Goldberg met with Vince that weekend, after the
Jericho match, the comments from Linda and basically wanted to do the
Goldberg
character that worked. The Goldberg & Booker vs. Jericho & Christian
match on 6/16 and the Goldberg vs. Mack presentation on 6/21 were
largely his doing.

To show the (lack of) power of the internet, fans were chanting for
Piper when O'Haire worked vis Velocity match, and it was said that
almost nobody had any idea Hogan wasn't going to be there.

Nova suffered a torn PCL (knee) when he tried to overcompensate in
mid-air after being dropped wrong by Mark Jindrak & Lance Cade. He
had surgery under Dr. James Andrews and will be out of action for four
months. Nova was suspended for four weeks because, and I'm not making
this up, he used the words "jerkoff" and "fat son of a bitch" to
describe Cade, Jindrak and Kenny Bolin at the Six Flags show. Because
it's at a theme park, there is an understanding that nothing even
remotely close to questionable language is used, and the women don't
even wear revealing costumes. Rob Conway also tore his PCL, but he
doesn't need surgery and will be back in a few weeks.

Torrie Wilson had her bachelorette party this past week at the Palms
Hotel in Las Vegas. Keibler, Ivory, Sable and Victoria were there
from 6/25. Stratus, Nidia and Dawn Marie all came on 6/26. They were
all planning on staying until 6/27, when they had to go back to work.

Rico has been studying tapes of Adrian Street, who used to prance and
skip around the ring between wrestling spots. He was told to copy
Street (who did well as an undercard guy in Tennessee and in the
Carolinas and actually headlines Florida a little bit with Dusty and
was probably most successful in the Alabama circuit, all during the
80s after coming over from England). Anyway, when he started doing
the skipping around the ring at the house shows, he was told to stop.
I'm not sure which agents (well, Terry Taylor for sure knew Street's
act since he even worked with him and there were spots in Rico vs.
Maven right out of a Taylor vs. Street match I remember from Mid South
TV in the early 80s) would have seen Street and which wouldn't have.

Storm injured his ribs on 6/27 and missed the rest of the weekend.

Nowinski was at all the house shows, but Rosey took his spot teaming
with Mack. He worked the corner due to having suffered a concussion,
and had an MRI done on 6/30, which is why he wasn't at Raw.

Buff Bagwell last week called John Laurinaitis looking for a spot.
Laurinaitis told him that they wanted him, but the timing wasn't right
(that's wrestling talk for we don't want you). Bagwell, who even
after all these years hasn't gotten a clue, still thinking it's all
about who has a good body and is good looking and nothing else, still
couldn't believe the company didn't want him.

Nathan Jones returned to Australia this past week to get his visa
renewed. He should be starting back within a weke or two.

Just as he was about to debut in TNA, Joe E. Legend, who did the Just
Joe snitch role years ago, was brought in for a dark match at the
Buffalo Raw tapings.

Mike Lockwood (Crash Holly) was officially let go. He'd seemed to
have been on the bubble seemingly forever, as the company really
hadn't done anything with him since the hardcore gimmick more than a
year ago. Actually, he was seemingly in better stead over te last
month since they started doing a deal where he read Matt Hardy's book
upside down at ringside.

Nidia's sister, known as Nurse Lulu, has started wrestling on OVW
spot shows. She's beeen there for a while and has worked in a valet
role.

WWE now has possession of all the ECW tapes.

Sharmell Sullivan (Paisley in WCW), who is Booker's girlfriend, is now
running his hip hop store in Houston. She was under a developmental
deal and blew out his knee doing a simple leap frog, and was cut, and
she has no interest in coming back.

There are discussions of giving Maven a bigger role because he's a
good talker.

In Providence, the real main event was the appearance of Vince.
Brother Love (Smackdown writer Bruch Prichard) replaced Piper, who was
announced as having a sickness that even he can't heal. He then
introduced Brian Gewirtz (it was actually David Lagana as a rib using
the name Brian Gewirtz) as a wheelchair bound young man. Brother Love
healed him and now he can walk. He then introduced Vince, and Zach
Gowen came out. Vince attacked Gowen and pulled off his fake leg.
Gowen made a comeback doing a moonsault with one leg off the ropes and
a few dropkicks on both guys, ending with Gowen using his prosthesis
for a Hogan legdrop on Vince.


Spoiler for 6/23/03, Wrestling Observer Live Radio Report (Foley interview):
Gorgonzola. Now that's a great word. Just sound it out; it's one of my
favourite words to say. Sure, it's an awful cheese, but the word itself sounds
pretty cool. I mean, it sounds like one of those monsters that would fight
Godzilla in those campy black and white Godzilla sequels. You know, Godzilla
vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. King Kong. Godzilla vs. Gorgonzola. You know, Godzilla
would be chasing Japanese people in Tokyo, and Gorgonzola would come rising out
of the sea and challenge him, and they'd fight in those cheesy stop-motion
animation sequences. I think my Gorgonzola would defeat Godzilla. I tell you
right now, though, after a fight like that, I bet Godzilla would be sticking to
Havardi on his sandwiches.
This is Wrestling Observer Live Recap with Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez. I
was hoping they would do another contest giveaway for one of those video games
because I have a ton of matieral for it (Dave: "The winner of this week's
contest wins a free copy of said video game, and the question for this week is:
have you ever eaten so many tacos that you felt like you had the flu? First
person to answer correctly wins the prize."), but I guess they can't do it with
the guests on. Which is okay, because they always have great guests. Bryan and
Dave are going on an odyssey in search of a good pay per view. With them they
have brought enough supplies to last them through the rest of the year. Which,
if it wasn't for Pride, those supplies would definitely get used up. Dave notes
that the next two weeks of TNA are going up against the NBA, and he notes that
this could be a problem for TNA since, if the NBA championship goes to seven
games, it'll be right up against the TNA anniversary show. I don't think this
will be a problem at all. Their crossover demo is all different. NBA can't
possibly cost TNA viewership, because TNA has none. Dave goes through all of
the pay per views coming up, and including TNA there's Bad Blood, Pride 26, UFC
43, WWA's show, an XWF tape and whatever else. They talk about no one caring
whether they false advertise or not, citing Ken Shamrock still being advertised
for UFC despite being injured, and HHH vs. Goldberg being advertised for Bad
Blood despite that not happening. They discuss the video promo for the Nash/HHH
match at Bad Blood that says that this feud is only going to get more brutal
being unintentionally funny. Dave says his get well soons out to Freddie
Blassie and Zane Bresloff.

Back from commercial, and Dave liked Smackdown. I think Dave's brained his
damage. He thought the Vince segment was great, and Bryan says it was one of
those things you're not suppose to like but he did. I disliked it very much. It
was just so cliched. The whole comedy routine with the lie detector has just
been done on so many TV shows and movies over the years that there is no way
that the crack comedy writing crew at WWE could come up with anything original.
I think a monkey handcuffed to a typewriter could've produced a segment as
funny. Of course, Brian Gerwitz was unavailable since he writes for Raw.
Vince's facial expressions were definitely good, but any segment that leads to
a punch line discussing Vince's sexual fantasies is not in my taste. Dave
thinks Zach Gowen is doing excellent in his role, and it's only a matter of
time before someone does a big article on him. They discuss Angle and Rock
returning this week. I'm seeing these commercials over the weekend advertising
Rock for Raw, and I'm real worried that they are going to pull the swerve and
have Rock not show up and instead do something stupid and bring out a midget
(they won't do that - well I don't think so - but I mean something similar),
which would be a nasty bit of bait and switch. They agree that the production
people are fantastic, and that the Angle video was a work of art. Bryan says he
could do without Kevin Dunn's philosophy on pro wrestling, though. They go over
the Pride and UFC events, and give their picks. Bryan picks Fedor over Fujita,
and I agree. Bryan thinks Cro Cop will beat Herring, and I agree, but Dave
thinks Herring will ground and pound him. Bryan thinks Anderson Silva is going
to win his fight because he doesn't know the guy he's fighting, and I agree
again, for the same reason. Bryan thinks Schembri is going to lose his fight,
and Dave agrees. The guy Schembri is fighting I've never heard of, and he has
no record on Sherdog.com, so my feeling is Schembri although with a guy you've
never heard of, you never know. Dave thinks Coleman is going to beat Frye, and
Bryan says Frye. I don't think Frye could live with himself with two losses to
Mark Coleman. For UFC, they both think Liddell is going to beat Couture. I
think everyone thinks that Liddell is going to beat Couture. They agree that
Tank vs. Kimo is going to be a slobber knocker, and both feel Tank will win.
Bryan thinks Tra Telligman will beat Rizzo, but Dave picks Pedro. Actually that
one's kinda tough. Dave thinks Freeman is defeating Tiger White, and Bryan has
no idea. They talk about Jackie Gayda starting on the recent tour as Rico's
manager. I guess that means his character is no longer gay. They discuss OVW
guys being brought up, and WWE creative giving them stupid gimmicks when they
have ready made gimmicks from their stays in OVW. Dave says they also bring in
guys that they shouldn't, and cites Orlando Jordan as an example. Dave says the
reason Basham and Damaja debuted as the Basham Brothers on Smackdown this week
was that there was a segment canceled and they needed something to fill time so
they got put in. Dave's says that this totally throws a wrench is Cornette's
booking of the Damaja/Basham feud in OVW, which has been built down there for
four months. I've got a feeling that WWE doesn't give a rats' ass about OVW,
which is amazing when you consider the quality of TV that OVW puts out as
compared to WWE.

Back from commercial, and Dave talks about the next WWF history article in the
Observer coming out this week. They talk about the big crowd at the Raw show in
Portland Saturday night. Dave says they're going to the callers, and that if
you want to get onto the show, the time to call is when one of the callers
finishes, so you can get on. In theory. The caller asks about the story of
Rikidozan dying. Dave says the story he's always heard was that Rikidozan was
stabbed, went to the hospital, was told by the hospital to stay put, but
instead decided to no-sell the stabbing and went back to the bar and drank some
more. Of course, the stab wound ended up no-selling him in the end. Caller asks
a question about Todd Martin's Blassie book review on this site, and Dave
discusses old-timers that feel wrestling in their day was tougher. Dave
discusses how athletes are way more advanced today than they ever were way back
when, and that some people are romantics for the old days. Dave talks about
Angle going back in time to 1947, and being able to defeat anyone in that era
in freestyle wrestling. Dave says that Lou Thesz told him many times that he
couldn't beat Dick Hutton, and Dave says that Dick Hutton placed eight when he
went for the Olympics way back when, and Angle won the gold medal in 1996, so
Angle would've handled Hutton. Dave says the Kurt Angle of today definitely
would've been the top guy in that era. They take another caller, who asks about
an internet rumor of Los Guerreros getting a lengthy title reign, but Chavo
getting hurt throw those plans out the window. Dave thinks it's ironic that an
internet rumor like that creeps up after he wrote about this a couple of weeks
ago. Dave says that was the plan, but you never know with WWE, and that Eddie
and Tajiri probably won't get a lengthy run with the belts. Dave says that
Confidential was a total waste of time. Why in the name of sweet fancy moses
would they show the Piper vs. Goldust backlot brawl match? Even worse than
that, is that they pass it off as being a "classic" match in similar fashion to
the way they said Bret vs. Bulldog from Wembley was a classic a few weeks ago
on Confidential. I mean, that's proof right there that the people in WWE thinks
their audience is completely stupid. I don't see how that company can seriously
believe for one second that a bunch of wrestling fans are sitting at home
watching this show, and saying "wow, that Piper/Goldust thing was awesome!".
They have to know it was a dumb match. And then to pass it off on TV as being a
classic just shows what they think of their own audience. Dave says the
Hogan/Vince thing was bait and switch. I missed that part; I tuned in for the
last half hour. Caller asks if Jamie Noble is doomed in WWE. Dave says he's not
going to lose his job or anything, but is doomed to his current position. They
talk about how WWE gave up on Spanky so quickly. They talk about the Hardy vs.
Rey thing, and Dave says that they have no real plans to do a long feud with
them since WWE just sees their lower card stuff as filler. Dave and the caller
both liked the Highlight Reel from Raw.

Back from commercial, and they take a caller who asks about wrestler of the
half-year. I was just thinking about that a couple of days ago! Dave says most
of the top guys for that award have all been injured. Dave thinks it's Kenta
Kobashi. Hmm. There's no one from WWE so far. I would've said Angle if it
wasn't for the neck surgery. If he completes the rest of this year and does as
well as last year I think he should win it when all is said and done. I
would've picked Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira if he beat Fedor. Then again, maybe
not. I'd say Yoshihiro Takayama, but every reason I have for picking him, he's
one-upped by Kobashi. Fedor is a contender, but I don't think he's a real draw
for Pride. I thought 2002 is bad for picking a wrestler of the year; 2003, so
far, is way worse. If Ortiz had fought Liddell like he implied he would, and
then defeated Liddell (which he wouldn't), and then defended the
Light-Heavyweight title regularly this year, he'd really be a consideration.
But none of that happened. Yeah, so far it's Kobashi. They discuss Kobashi vs.
Misawa from 3/1 being the match of the year this year. Caller reads a fan
letter from an old Observer saying that Cactus Jack would end up paralyzed and
living in a trailer park, which is of course very funny in retrospect. Well,
about the trailer thing. They take another caller, who asks about Nash going
over in the cage match. Dave doesn't think so. Dave expects Flair to job for
Michaels. Dave figures they would've had Flair job for HBK in Charlotte too, if
the match had happened there. Dave says the deal with Michaels and Flair on Raw
this past Monday was real close to being real. Dave says Hunter and Ric are
also close. Caller asks about the heat between Bruno and Hogan. Dave says Bruno
took great pride in what he was, and liked to represent pro wrestling, and
thought that Hogan was a phony. Dave says Bruno was very much against steroids,
and that Hogan was a product of the steroids era and lied about using them at
first. Bruno may have resented how big Hogan got in the 1980s, considering
Bruno was bigger than Hogan in his own way and Bruno never got recognition for
that. Dave says Bruno did better numbers at certain points in his career than
Hogan in certain buildings, and that Bruno thought his brand of wrestling was
more realistic. Dave says Hogan made snide comments in his book about Bruno,
especially the deal with Hogan claiming that the Shea Stadium crowd in 1980 was
drawn by him vs. Andre, not Zbyszko vs. Bruno, which is a blatant lie. Dave
says Larry Zbyszko is upset about that one, since Hogan is taking credit for
one of the biggest highlights of their respective careers. We've got Mick Foley
on the line. I wonder how bad his haircut is now, since he's been out of
wrestling for so long? Mick talks about his book Tietam Brown, saying that he
came across a lot of characters in his years as a wrestler and used them to
build the characters in his book. Mick says that his editor has called it a
coming of age story mixed with violence, and that the media has been focusing a
little too much on the violence part. The book is about a kid that was given up
by his parents but never adopted, and he meets his father when he's 17. Mick
says he read Steven King's "On Writing", and King said to focus more on
characters and storytelling than plot and mechanics. Foley said the father
character in the book is an ex-wrestler, and is based off a lot of the people
Foley has met in the business. Foley said he's worried that people will think
it's a story about wrestling, which it isn't. Dave and Foley discuss the father
character's life as a wrestler being similar to Sputnik Monroe.

Back from commercial, and Dave asks Mick about him completely leaving wrestling
for something different. Mick says that writing has filled that creative need
for him that he demanded from wrestling, so the transition has been easier.

Back from the news, and I miss the first segment back because I was getting
food. Ever eaten frozen yogurt on a stick? It's real good. Anyways, after the
next break Mick says that when he left WWF in April 2000 he didn't really know
what he was going to do. A couple of months later he got the commissioner's
role, and thought he would be with the company for awhile. After wifey had a
baby in December 2000, he figured he'd come back and continue with the company.
He says that when he told Stu Snyder about him deciding took the offer to write
a novel, there was friction between him and WWE. He didn't think the
commissioner role was compelling the second time around, and he says that if he
stayed around longer then he would've grown to dislike the company. Foley talks
about Ric Flair being a gentleman about Foley's comments on him from his first
book. Foley says the scripting of interviews has really hurt the product, and
has killed the power of the money drawing promo. Foley says he remembers
talking to Shawn Michaels a few years ago about how business was hot then, but
someday it's not going to be and the young guys are going to need to know how
to do money promos. Dave says that the younger guys like Lesnar aren't on the
same level in terms of promos as someone like Hogan or Piper or Flair, and that
when you have Hogan doing a promo on the same show that Lesnar does a promo,
and then Lesnar gets over-shadowed and looks second rate due to his lack of
promo ability. Foley thinks they've dropped the ball on the Piper/Hogan thing,
and that Piper should be managing and O'Haire wrestling, and not Piper
wrestling. Dave talks about all of the comedy promos that waste time on WWE TV,
and that don't draw money and that aren't even funny in the first place. Foley
says there is a time and place for comedy and a time and place for serious
stuff. Foley says that Rock was all wrong for Goldberg, and that Rock should
have been built up like he was unstoppable and the only guy who could stop him
was Goldberg, but instead Rock just went out and was an entertaining crowd and
turned the crowd to liking him by the end of the program.

Back from commercial. They talk about the business being down. Foley thinks
that the house shows are down because people realize when the camera is off
that they don't get all of the production frills they do at TV tapings and the
like. Foley talks about the wrestling schedule being very demanding, and my
feed for this show goes out. Jeremy Wall doesn't need this. The feed goes back
in, and Dave is talking about the light schedule not working out for WCW. Foley
says with the structure of WCW that it was difficult to get a good spot in that
company. They talk a bit more about the wrestling schedule being demanding, and
Dave asks what Mick is doing other than writing. Mick says he's done with TNN.
Foley didn't like the idea of Spike TV, and they decided not to use him
anymore. Foley says that he thinks they are going to a men's channel because
ratings are down. He says a lot of was the decline of Raw, since that's their
number one show, and that they spent a lot of money for CSI and it bombed,
doing like a regular 1.2 or something awful like that after Raw. Foley says he
thinks they gave up on the idea they could attract intelligent viewers after
that. Foley plugs Tietam Brown, saying that the first chapter is available for
free at Amazon.com. Foley talks about another book he's working on, which has
to do with New York City and baseball.

They talk about the Hall Of Fame after a break. Foley thinks Shawn Michaels
should be in based on his workrate, and he thinks that Shawn should be upset
for not being nominated for Raw star of the decade at the Raw anniversary show
earlier this year above him. Mick talks about people being disappointed when he
tells them that his favorite match was the Mind Games match with Shawn. Mick
says he would speak in front of a group of kids, and before he would take
questions from them he would say that "yes, going off the top of the cage in
the hell in a cell match really did hurt", and like two-thirds of the kids
would lower their hands. Mick says that people like the exagerrate that the
fall was like thirty feet, when it was really only sixteen. Dave says now
people are disappointed with Hell in the Cell matches because they don't live
up the to expectations of the big bumps in the original matches. I hope these
people aren't buying Bad Blood. Mick talks about doing that match so it was up
to the quality of the first HITC match with Taker and Shawn. Bryan asks Mick
what was supposed to happen when he was chokeslammed on the top of the cage,
and Mick says that he was supposed to hang upside from a hole in the cage with
Taker pushing him through, but that obviously didn't happen. Foley says both
HHH and Taker would have better cases to get into the HOF if they retired like
a year ago. Mick feels that HHH needs like a good year of hot programs to get
consideration again after the poor time he's had after he tore his quad. Mick
feels Taker should be in. He says Benoit should be in based on ability. Mick
says that Eddie Guerrero needs a couple more years before getting in, but has
drawn real well in Mexico. Mick says that Benoit is a real nice guy in real
life, and they should show that on TV more so fans get more attached to him.
Mick thinks WWE really dropped the ball with Al Snow after Tough Enough.

Final segment. They take a caller, who asks Mick if he has any regrets. He says
he regrets doing so much at the time at some of the house shows with small
crowd in the late '80s. He also regrets he didn't get that match with Vince at
WrestleMania X7. Foley says that if you're a commissioner character then you
have to wrestler every once and awhile, and that may be a problem for Steve
Austin with his current role. Callers asks what is Mick's best meal ever with
Abdullah the Butcher, and Mick puts over Abby's restaurant. Dave compliments
Mick for opening the doors to a lot of people being able to write books on
wrestling that would have otherwise never got a chance to if he had not written
his first book, and that closed the show for this week.


Spoiler for 6/16/03, Wrestling Observer Live Radio report:
It's Wrestling Observer Live and I haven't done this in a couple of weeks. Dave
says there's no guest booked for this week. The week with no guest are pretty
good, actually. I like the guests and all, but when you've got an hour
dedicated to interviewing someone in wrestling, that leaves just an hour to
talk about the current scene. With a two hour show just full of wrestling chat
and phone calls and all that, you get a broader scope of the current goings-on,
which is cool. I always feel rejuvenated about pro wrestling after listening to
this show. Mind you that rejuvenation only lasts til about Monday night, say
around 9pm eastern, but at least WOL is doing it's job. I think it's because
listening to this show and Dave and Bryan and all the callers talk about the
stuff that's really eeking them about the business, I know some other fans feel
my pain. Maybe that's why I like the shows with more callers and such. Anyways,
they talk about Bryan's upcoming hair vs. hair match. I'm surprised Vince Russo
hasn't done a pubes vs. pubes match yet. I hope he doesn't read this report.
Bryan says a hair vs. hair is his lucha(~!) dream. They talk about Zane
Bresloff passing on, and Dave says he was the most influential person in
wrestling that no one knew about, and that he had lots of connections to the
top casino people and boxing promoters and all that. Dave also says through his
connections made from being a concert promoter, he was one of the first guys to
get wrestlers onto radio shows to promote events.

Back from commercial and they talk about the upcoming HBO Real Sports segment
on all of the deaths in pro wrestling. Dave says WWE felt that the interview
Vince did with HBO didn't come off well, and that's a bad thing. Well, for
them. They talk about the segment from Smackdown where Steph screamed
uncontrollably about being a ho. Dave says it was terrible acting. $10 says
she's gloating about the performance. Bryan likes the Big Show, and Dave asks
Bryan's thoughts on Bad Blood. Bryan can't remember what the hell Bad Blood is.
Bryan doesn't realize how blessed he is. He says it was alright. Bryan says he
had low expectations for the cage match, and higher expectations for the
HBK/Flair, and things ended up being slightly the opposite there. I felt the
same way, as did probably most everyone that bought the show. Dave thought it
was pricey for six matches and some terrible skits. Dave talks about reading an
article about the Atlanta Braves averaging like a 1.0 this season, which is way
down from what they used to, and how suddenly TV ratings on TBS didn't seem all
that bad in comparison. My feed keeps cutting in and out during this, and
pretty much like a half-dozen other points in this show, so Dave sounds like
this: "I read an art... and they're down to like a... pro wrestling levels...
Atlanta Braves... so bad... and in... that's why... this is...". I was afraid
he'd end the thing by saying "and that's one of the greatest stories I've ever
read" or something along those lines. They talk about the WWE investors
conference from a few days ago, and Bryan says that Linda McMahon was hard
pressed pulling the wool over people's eyes. Dave says Linda is a smart
businesswoman, but probably doesn't understand the certain technical aspects of
pro wrestling. Bryan says it's obvious she knows that things are bad and is
making excuses for it. Dave says she was evasive. They talk about the upcoming
Pride Middleweight tournament, and Dave says it could be the best show ever,
and says the other Grand Prix from 2000 was tremendous, even though in the
final eight from that tournament you had a few guys who clearly weren't going
to win that thing. And my connection cuts out, but I get back on pretty
quickly. Dave says upsets and flukes are guaranteed, and maybe three or four
rematches will be born from this for the future. They talk about Mirko vs.
Fedor in a future event. I'm so looking forward to that. Dave says Liddell
could be going over there for that tournament, and he's gonna be pumped after
his poor showing against Couture. Dave talks about Jackson vs. Liddell, Saku
vs. anyone and Silva vs. Liddell being exciting. Oh yeah; I'm pumped for this.

Back from commercial, and Dave says there's lots of wrestlers who shouldn't be
happy with WWE when they read what's printed in this week's F4W and Observer.
They take a caller who asks what happened to the work being done on dead
wrestlers for Confidential. Dave says originally they wanted to beat HBO to the
punch, and have obviously had a change of plans since they haven't done that
yet. They may be waiting for the HBO show to come out so they can do a
rebuttal. Caller asks about Benoit being jobbed to every heel Smackdown. Dave
says they really have no plans for Benoit other than maybe a feud with Rhyno.
They talk about the Basham/Damaja tag team, and how Linda Miles is miscast in
her stupid role. Dave says they should have Cornette teach her to be a heel in
OVW for like eight weeks before bringing her back up in that role. Caller asks
about WWE's ability to buy WCW and the TBS timeslots if they were still with
USA. Dave says they could because they had no exclusive deal with USA Network
unlike with Viacom. Dave says the same thing would have happened anyways
because it would've been the same egos involved with the WCW takeover. They
take another caller who asks Dave's thoughts on Flair and HHH bashing wrestling
writers, specifically HHH saying that wrestling journalists are like
12-year-olds. Good question. Dave says that he's older than HHH and has watched
way more wrestling than HHH has, but says that he certainly couldn't do what
HHH does in the ring. Dave brings up the axiom about going to a restaurant, and
not being a chef but if the food tastes awful, then it tastes awful. Dave says
HHH is insecure about his positions because everyone knows what the deal is.
Dave says that Flair is just a smart man and isn't going to say something
stupid, and that's a part of the reason he's been around for so long. Dave
doesn't like the generalization of "all wrestling writers are bad", because
some are bad, and some are great. Dave says in general, the majority of web
site wrestling writers don't have a clue. Dave and Bryan talk about
thirteen-year-olds who write about this stuff that don't know what the hell
they're talking about, but they note that there's probably some
thirteen-year-old out there who is pretty good at it. Here's a story that Dave
will like about himself in regards to indie workes. I interviewed a bunch of
local guys for my newsletter a few months back at an indie show in my hometown.
None of them knew me (or most didn't), so I would come up and introduce myself
to each guy before I interviewed them. When I introduced myself, I always said
that I wrote for WrestlingObserver.com, because every one of these guys knew
what the Observer is and who writes it, and it gave me some credibility.
Everyone was cool with that and I ended up having some great conversations
about wrestling with some of the workers. A couple of guys didn't take to the
Observer.com mention too well, though. One guy asked me what Dave Meltzer is
like to deal with. I said "well I don't really know him that well. He's a good
writer, I like him", and the guy went on this rant about how wrestling writers
are all a bunch losers, know-nothing-know-it-alls, that whole schpeel. And it
was like the same deal with what HHH was talking about here and what D'Lo Brown
was mentioned to have said later in this show, how, if this guy, who is like
literally 15 years Dave's junior, thinks Meltzer and everyone else here knows
nothing, and it's obvious that he reads the Observer since he seemed to know so
much about it, why does he bother reading it, and why would he rant on
wrestling writers if he thinks they're "below" him? It's like, Dave's been
writing the Observer for twenty years. If he stunk, he would've went out of
business long ago. I think that's fairly simple. The other guy I spoke to was
the promoter of the event, who actually brought it up to me after I he found
out I write for this site. He spent a few minutes ranting about how Meltzer is
an idiot because he says that Andre was only 6'10" (or whatever his actual
height was). And this guy is the promoter, so you'd figure he'd have some sort
of grasp on pro wrestling if he's promoting it. Not understanding Andre's real
height wouldn't make him a better promoter or anything, but I feel if he knew
that, then he would probably understand a lot more about wrestling that would
make him a better promoter. And just the opposite. I learned so much about pro
wrestling and it's many personalities in that one night than I would've in five
years as a regular fan, literally. Wrestlers that say that stuff are idiots,
and I have no regard for that whatsoever. If someone takes the time to
seriously study pro wrestling over the course of many years, they will become
an expert. I just don't understand why some people can't grasp that. I take so
much offense to that stuff because if they bitch about Dave and say he stinks,
and he's really the best wrestling writer of the last twenty years, then
everyone else, including myself, must really, really stink. And some do stink.
But then again, some don't; far from it. Anyways, point of the story is that
even HHH who makes boatloads of money a year to the little indie worker working
for gas money back home share the same negativity about wrestling writers.
Maybe we're just a big, mean lot of people. Caller asks about RVD's promo
ability. Dave says he's good at doing RVD, but terrible at doing everything
else. Dave says that WWE forces their workers to fit the WWE mold, when they
should be masking the weaknesses of the wrestlers instead. Dave brings up
Public Enemy as the most obvious example of this, as they were great in their
first run in ECW, but weren't that good of a tag team. The caller thinks Big
Show is funny, and that he should be in that sort of role, and Dave says that
they want Show to headline and he doesn't think that role would fit for a
headliner.

Back from a commercial, and they take a caller who talks about JR on OTR
talking about how WWE screwed up Goldberg when he first arrived. Dave says it's
very rare that such an easy booking job comes along like Goldberg, and that the
creative team exposed themselves by messing that one up. The caller says that
JR said on OTR that they wanted Booker with a world belt in the future, and the
caller wants to know how that is possible since Booker's getting old (Dave says
around 38) and is always talking of retiring in a couple of years. Dave says he
hears Booker talk about retiring, and thinks that Booker thinks that he will,
but Dave doesn't think he will, because when you retire so young and sit at
home with nothing to do and try to plan the rest of your life, you miss the
rush of working for the company and making four hundred Gs. Dave talks about
going to a live show, and noting how all of the workers seem so much smaller
live rather than on a big TV, and that the women seem a lot skinnier. Dave says
Nidia looks better in real life than on TV. I've seen the Smackdown crew live
in London Ontario twice in recent months, and Nidia has a very nice figure,
much better than what TV leads you believe. They talk about Booker vs.
Christian from Bad Blood being a bad match due to the finish and the time
constraints. Caller asks about Edge being on the creative team, and Dave says
he wasn't, but he was reviewing the shows. Johnny Ace approached him and
suggested that he not be so negative in the reviews (Dave notes that Ace is a
great political player), and Edge didn't see the point of that so he stopped
doing the reviews. Bryan brings up the TNA Anniversary show, and feels it was
better than usual. Dave didn't like it as much, but thinks that the cage match
with Daniels & Skipper vs. Storm & Harris this week will be good. They take
another caller, and the caller tells Dave that D'Lo Brown told him at a recent
indie show that the Observer is like the National Enquirer. Dave says D'Lo
would know since he's subscribed to the Observer for years. Dave says if he's
the Enquirer, what's everyone else? See, that's what I was talking about above.
Caller wants to know if Terry Funk is coming in on Raw on Monday, and Dave says
something is scripted for him but you never know with the Funker. Dave relates
a story about how Terry Funk was suppose to be one of the knights in the Shawn
Michaels/Hart Family Survivor Series match in 1993, but he flew there, and
later that afternoon didn't feel like doing it anymore and flew home. Now
that's funny. Caller asks about the Hogan/Sting thing being a screwjob at
Starrcade 1997, and Dave says it wasn't really a screwjob, and that Sting
probably doesn't like to remember it that way. Dave says there's people in the
business who refuse to believe it because Hogan's a nice guy to their face, but
deep down know that Hogan has screwed them. This essentially what Bret Hart was
talking about in latest OTR appearance this year, that he doesn't like to
believe that Hogan went out of his way to ruin him in WCW but it seems to be
the case.

Back from commercial. They talk about Kane maybe losing his match on Monday,
and that's a risk. Well, it's not like Kane is getting over right now anyways,
so they may as well try something drastic. Dave says Jacobs never had success
without that mask. Dave says that WCW wanted all of the luchadores to take
their masks off, and they did and they didn't get anymore over. Dave says
Misawa did better without the Tiger Mask despite the fact that he doesn't have
good facials.

Back from the news. A caller asks about Brock Lesnar's boat injury, and Dave
says Lesnar's a tough guy and has been working through a broken rib since last
year. They talk about Nash, and Dave says that he is under contract until
February, and negotiations will be interesting for that since Nash will no way
get the same great deal he did last time around. Caller asks about HBK being
unhappy with Bad Blood, and Dave says that most undercard guys are unhappy with
the match time they are given at any major show. Bryan says that WWE.com
probably interviewed HBK right after he back back from the match, and that was
the first thing on his mind. Dave says Shawn is a perfectionist, and after
doing that match with the flu and all that, he was probably disappointed since
this was his one chance to have a great match with his childhood hero.

Back from commercial, and a new caller asks about WrestleMania 20. Dave says he
doesn't know the main event, and doesn't even know the main event for
SummerSlam. Man, it's already been a year since Lesnar vs. Rock. Caller asks
about Goldberg vs. Austin for Mania, but Dave doubts it. Dave says maybe HHH
vs. Lesnar, or maybe a celebrity deal will be done. Dave says Rock vs. Goldberg
it still possible, and so is Goldberg vs. Lesnar. There's a stadium show coming
up at SkyDome in Toronto, but I missed the pay per view name since the feed
this week was real bad. Dave says WWE also want to go back to Houston for a
major show at some point. Bryan says maybe Booker can win the title then. They
take another caller, who talks about Paul London. Dave says London is a great
athlete, but needs to be polished more. They talk about everyone in OVW having
bad hair, and how WWE is having everyone get haircuts there, making them look
like averages joes. They talk about Vince Russo making a post at an unnamed
message board about Raw. Dave says that Russo has not forgiven Dave Lagana
about that letter Lagana wrote in a 1999 issue of Observer. Dave says Russo
sounded dumb when he insulted "that Friends writer that works on Raw" because
Lagana works on Smackdown. Dave says the post sounded politically motivated.
They talk about Lance Storm, and Dave says that WWE thinks they're actually
pushing Storm with this stupid gimmick. Well, with that knowledge there's no
way that company's surviving. Caller asks about the Stephanie/ho storyline.
Bryan says it's so ridiculous, and that Gowan looked like a goof on Smackdown.
They talk about how they twist a bit of reality into WWE with something like
the Sable deal, then they do something like this. They talk about the Travel
channel wrestling special, and Dave says he hasn't seen it, but if they did a
show that is insulting to the wrestling audience by presenting erroneous facts,
then that's a bad job of journalism.

Back from commercial. Dave says Kane vs. HHH should be on PPV. Dave says they
had a lot of MSG stuff on Confidential last night. I missed that. Dave shills
the WWE TV lineup for this week, and says that Piper & O'Haire vs. Eddie &
Tajiri will be interesting, especially when Piper is in the ring with Tajiri.
The HBO special is on Tuesday at 10pm EST. They take a caller, who talks about
the sirius satellite radio which this show broadcasts on, and how they're
coming out with a sirius boombox. Bryan says now kids can breakdance to
Wrestling Observer Live on the street. Caller asks how many more history of WWF
articles are to come in the Observer, and Bryan says not too many at this rate.
Bryan was on fire tonight. Dave says he's going to do up to 2001. Dave says
after that every month he's going to do a different history of one of the
territories or other companies like All Japan and New Japan and such. That's
gonna be real interesting, I'm looking forward to that. Dave talks about Johnny
Legend telling him that he saved a bunch of tapes of old Blassie promos that
he's going to ship to Dave. And I get disconnected again. Back on, and it
sounds like they're talking about availibility of matches from the NWA in 1989.
I have so many copies of the various Flair vs. Steamboat matches from that era
it isn't funny. I must have their match from Clash VI on like five different
tapes. Caller asks Dave and Bryan about what home fitness thingers to use, and
neither of them use that. Dave says he lives like a block from the gym but
never goes.

They take a caller. Dave figures the Heat before Vengeance will be a Smackdown
show. They talk about Smackdown on Thanksgiving week, or at least that's what
it sounded like they are talking about that, but I dunno because I got
disconnected again. You think the Hulk is an angry guy, wait til you get ahold
of me with this stupid connection. We're back on and Dave tells the guy that
he's got a great idea. They talk about AAA being wacked-out lucha. They talk
about Sting, and Dave says the plan is for him to return to TNA. That's good.
They talk about Sting being religious, and Dave figured that he wouldn't work
in that company because of that, but he is anyways. Dave brings up a story
about the same deal with Road Warrior Hawk. Caller asks if Tamon Honda is worse
than Godfather, and Dave says yes. Dave says that Honda can work better long
matches than Godfather, and they talk some on that. Dave says Honda's knees are
shot. Callers asks about how posters (people, not paper that goes on your wall)
are treated at the message board on WrestlingClassics.com. Dave says he can't
help himself in posting there when someone says something intriguing or stupid.
Or intriguingly stupid. Dave says he shouldn't be doing it. They talk about
Velocity, and Dave says Josh Mathews is bad on commentary, but is trying hard
and has gotten a bit better. He says Mathews has no emotion and can't put
anything over, but knows the names of holds and technical info like that.
Another caller asks who and when HHH is going to lose the belt to? Dave has no
idea. Caller asks if it'll be like a Bruno Sammarino reign, and Dave says he
doubts it. I dunno. With Triple H marrying Stephanie in the fall, he's
definitely there for the long-run, and he's not going to be giving up rights to
that belt anytime soon. I mean, he may lose it like the way he lost it to Shawn
Michaels in the fall, but it's going to be *his* belt for awhile. It's already
been almost a year since it was awarded to him, all he has to do is the last 12
months over and over again for a few more times and he'll start closing in on
Bruno. Callers asks about WWE buying ECW videos, and Dave says they have with
the idea of making a video on demand service. They talk about Linda McMahon
blaming the Iraqi war for the poor Mania buyrates, and that is being overblown
and was only a very, very small part of it. Dave says if that was the reason
for the poor Mania buyrate, how come the buyrates didn't shoot back up after
the war ended? Dave doesn't expect Goldberg vs. HHH for SummerSlam at this
point. Dave says HHH should drop the title to Goldberg, but they really need to
get Goldberg up and running. They talk about Foley definitely coming back after
this Monday's show being his last for a little bit. They take another caller,
and they talk about the condition of Benoit's neck.

Back from final break. Another caller wants to know if Kane will be unmasked.
Dave says if they don't, people are going to be disappointed. Caller asks if
Vince had control over ECW, and Dave says he didn't own stock in the company or
anything, but they worked together over the years and Vince loaned them a lot
of money. They talk about Goldberg yelling at the kid after Bad Blood, and no
one backstage really said anything to Goldberg because they're afraid he'll
beat them like a tent post. Dave says Goldberg has a temper. And that was the
show for this week.
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